Environmental Groups Call for WTO Deal on Fish
WTO Needs to Find a Way Forward on Fisheries Subsidies
Press Release Date: December 2, 2009
Location: Geneva, Switzerland
As the World Trade Organization (WTO) ministers concluded the Seventh Ministerial Conference, Oceana released remarks from Courtney Sakai, senior campaign director, as prepared for yesterday’s panel at the Geneva Trade & Development Symposium on Ways Forward for Sustainable Fisheries: The Doha Challenge.
“The WTO fisheries subsidies negotiations is one of the most important international efforts to stop global overfishing. The WTO fisheries subsidies negotiations are one of the areas that have made steady progress. Even as other areas of the Doha round have faltered, the work on fisheries subsidies has continued.
We are confident that the WTO can produce a meaningful result in the fisheries subsidies negotiations. While there are still significant differences to be resolved, there is strong recognition and consensus by WTO members about the importance of the fisheries subsidies negotiations.
The stakes are high for the WTO in the fisheries subsidies negotiations. At stake is both the environment and the relevance of the WTO in the face of mounting environmental challenges. The recognition for a strong result on fisheries subsidies has increased as the urgency of these problems has become more severe.
Global fisheries depletion continues at a rapid rate. Since the Doha round began eight years ago, global fisheries resources have been depleted by an additional five percent. Presently, at least 80 percent of the world’s fisheries are overexploited, fully exploited, significantly depleted or recovering from overexploitation.
Fisheries subsidies is especially relevant as the WTO considers its past, present, and future at this week’s Ministerial Conference. The WTO fisheries subsidies negotiations are the first time that an environmental outcome has been the key objective of a trade negotiation.
The fisheries subsidies negotiations show the promise of the multilateral trading system to address trade and the environment. A successful and ambitious outcome in the fisheries subsidies negotiations would show the world that the WTO can contribute to solving global environmental challenges.
As many Ministers have reiterated this week, we hope that countries can deliver on their commitment to complete the Doha round in 2010. But regardless, fish need a WTO deal – and soon. The fisheries subsidies negotiations could be the WTO’s environmental ‘good news” story.”
About Fisheries Subsidies:
The WTO is engaged in a dedicated negotiation on fisheries subsidies as part of the Doha trade round. 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 fish catch. These subsidies are driving the rampant overcapacity and overfishing that threatens the viability of an essential nutrition source and the ecosystems that cover more than two-thirds of the planet. In addition, more than a billion people worldwide depend on fish as a key source of protein and hundreds of millions, in both developed and developing countries, depend on fishing for income.
Oceana is an international organization dedicated to the protection and restoration of marine resources. Oceana serves as a formal advisor to the United States government on trade and environment policy and chairs a dedicated task force on fisheries. Oceana is participating in the Ministerial Conference as an official observer and as part of the Untied States delegation.
To learn more about Oceana’s campaign to stop overfishing subsidies, please visit www.cutthebait.org.