Oceana Kicks Off “Cut the Bait 2011” Campaign in Nation’s Capital Leading Up to Earth Day - Oceana USA

Oceana Kicks Off “Cut the Bait 2011” Campaign in Nation’s Capital Leading Up to Earth Day

WTO Negotiations Critical to Stopping Global Overfishing Subsidies

Press Release Date: April 20, 2011

Location: Washington, D.C.


Dustin Cranor, APR | email: dcranor@oceana.org | tel: 954.348.1314


In observance of Earth Day, Oceana launches its Cut the Bait 2011 campaign in the nation’s capital with new advertisements displayed on Metrorail trains and platforms. Cut the Bait 2011 is urging leaders in Washington to take a stand in support of a World Trade Organization (WTO) fisheries subsidies agreement.

“Overfishing is one of the world’s greatest environmental challenges,” said Courtney Sakai, senior campaign director at Oceana. “Governments are literally paying fishermen to overfish with massive subsidies. The WTO offers an immediate opportunity to address harmful fisheries subsidies on a global scale. With its commitment to address domestic overfishing, the United States has a vested interest in ensuring that there is a successful WTO fisheries subsidies agreement.”

Despite international consensus on the dire state of the oceans, many governments, such as Brazil, China, the European Union, and Japan, continue to provide major subsidies to their fishing sectors. These subsidies promote overfishing by pushing fleets to fish longer, harder and farther away than would otherwise be economically feasible.

“If we’re not careful, the world will find itself with a severe shortage of fish. That would be bad for the oceans, bad for fishermen, and bad for everyone who depends on fish for food,” said Dr. Michael Hirshfield, senior vice president for North America and chief scientist at Oceana. “As the world’s largest importer of seafood and one of the top five exporters, the U.S. has a lot to lose.”

Here are the facts:

  • According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), water covers more than two-thirds of the planet and is home to 50 percent of all species on earth.
  • More than a billion people worldwide depend on fish as a key source of protein. Fishing activities support coastal communities and hundreds of millions of people who depend on fishing for all or part of their income.
  • According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), 85 percent of the world’s fisheries are fully exploited, overexploited, depleted, or recovering from depletion. This is the highest percentage since FAO began keeping records and is a 10 percent increase from just four years ago.
  • Destructive fisheries subsidies are estimated to be at least $16 billion annually – an amount equivalent to approximately 20 percent of the value of the world catch.

The new advertisements show currency of major fishing subsidizers with hooks, and read, “President Obama: America needs a WTO Fisheries Subsidies Deal. Subsidies are fishing the world’s oceans to death. It’s Time to Cut the Bait!”

Oceana is planning several upcoming activities as part of Cut the Bait. Next week, Oceana’s chief executive officer Andrew Sharpless will meet with United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk. Washingtonians should also keep an eye out for Finley the Fish, the Cut the Bait mascot, who will be making special appearances in the coming weeks and months, urging Congress to support a successful WTO fisheries subsidies agreement.

Since the beginning of the year, the fisheries subsidies negotiations have been following an aggressive meeting schedule. Despite recent challenges, the WTO continues to work to make progress in the round. New documents in all areas of the round are expected Thursday, April 21. WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy will then hold a “green room” meeting of selected members April 28, followed by a meeting of the Trade Negotiations Committee (TNC) April 29, which includes the entire WTO membership.

The Cut the Bait campaign was originally launched around the WTO Hong Kong Ministerial meeting in 2005. For more information about the campaign, please visit www.cutthebait.org.