Ahead of the WTO’s July ministerial meeting on fisheries subsidies, environmental activists in Seoul urge leaders to reach an agreement.
July 6, 2021—On 1 July, ocean campaigners prominently positioned ice sculptures depicting fish in Gwanghwamun Square in Jongno-gu, Seoul, as a call for the Korean government to stop subsidies that contribute to the overexploitation of the ocean’s fish stocks. Representatives of environmental organizations Korean Federation for Environmental Movement (KFEM), Citizens’ Institute for Environmental Science (CIES), Advocates for Public Interest Law (APIL), and APIL Environmental Justice Foundation Korea were present at the installation to urge leaders to reach an agreement at the World Trade Organization (WTO) as soon as possible to end harmful fisheries subsidies.
“[Republic of Korea] is the [fourth] biggest provider of these subsidies; it’s time to #StopFundingOverfishing at @wto negotiations this year,” tweeted the Environmental Justice Foundation. The action took place in a public space well known for hosting national events and organized demonstrations. The images of melting fish and wasted money were intended to send a strong visual message to the government of the importance of ending harmful fisheries subsidies as soon as possible—our resources can no longer wait.
On the first day of the WTO’s 2021 term in March, the Stop Funding Overfishing campaign supported by non-governmental organizations worldwide placed a similar ice sculpture directly in front of the WTO’s headquarters in Geneva, urging leaders to deliver on their mandate and “Stop the Fish Meltdown.”
Ambassador Santiago Wills of Colombia, the chair of the fisheries subsidies negotiations, introduced a revised draft text on 30 June. The WTO will hold a ministerial meeting to review the advanced negotiating text on 15 July with the aim of concluding negotiations to end subsidies that drive overfishing.