Oceana issued the following statement from senior campaign director Courtney Sakai today in response to statements from World Trade Organization (WTO) Director-General Pascal Lamy and United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk about World Oceans Day and the need for a successful agreement in the ongoing WTO fisheries subsidies negotiations to ensure "richer oceans for the future generations."
"International trade can play a key role in protecting the world's oceans. The WTO is in the unlikely position of producing one of the most significant actions to stop global overfishing. The WTO can make a major contribution towards reversing the global decline in fishery resources by creating new trade rules to reduce destructive fishing subsidies. A key element to the survival of the world's oceans lies in the hands of the WTO.
The Obama Administration recognizes the opportunity to achieve major environmental protections for the oceans in the Doha round. The world's oceans need the Obama Administration to continue to work towards the successful and timely completion of the Doha round and fisheries subsidies negotiations."
To read WTO D-G Pascal Lamy's World Oceans Day statement, please click here. To read U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk's World Oceans Day statement, please click here.
Background: In December 2008, the United Nations designated June 8 as World Oceans Day - sixteen years after it was first proposed at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. In 2009, World Oceans Day will be officially observed for the first time.
According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), 80 percent of the world's fisheries are currently overexploited, fully exploited, significantly depleted or recovering from overexploitation. Subsidies promote overcapacity and overfishing by pushing fleets to fish longer, harder and farther away than would otherwise be possible. Global fisheries subsidies are estimated to be at least $20 billion annually, an amount equivalent to approximately 25 percent of the value of the world catch. The WTO is currently engaged in a dedicated negotiation on fisheries subsidies as part of its Doha trade round.