The fishing community in the country, both in the traditional and mechanised sector, has jointly come out against the WTO’s move to stop subsidies in the small scale fisheries sector.

In a memorandum submitted to the visiting Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal, they pointed out that the highly complicated rules on fisheries subsidies are being negotiated in the WTO meeting proposed to be held in Geneva from June 12 to 15.

The fishing communities fear that these rules will threaten their livelihood and drive them into poverty and severe deprivation. The WTO negotiations seem tilted toward protecting the interests of countries with commercial fishing and ignoring the interests of fishermen who survive at the margins of society by engaging in subsistence fishing, Peter Mathias, president of All Kerala Fishing Board Operators Association, said.

The present state of fisheries subsidies negotiations must not be allowed to continue, and the government should take immediate steps to block any move by the WTO to stop subsidies in the fisheries sector.

“If subsidies are withdrawn, it will severely affect our livelihoods which are already strained due to the scarcity of fish due to climate change, marine pollution and other reasons”, he said.

The associations also sought the intervention of the Commerce Minister to thwart the move by WTO to withdraw fisheries subsidies.

The associations that met the Minister in Kochi included Trawlnet Boat Operators Association, Kollam District Fishing Boat Operators Association, Karnataka Purse-seine Meenugarara Sangha, Malpe Fishermen’s Association and Cochin Fisheries Harbour Vyavasaya Samrakshana Samithy.