WTO Members Urged to Fulfill their Commitment to Stop Overfishing Subsidies
Press Release Date: December 19, 2008
Location: Geneva, Switzerland
The World Trade Organization (WTO) issued a document for the Rules Negotiating Group today, including texts on subsidies and anti-dumping and a specific “roadmap” of action for fisheries subsidies. Oceana responded to the fisheries subsidies section with the following statement from senior campaign director Courtney Sakai.
Oceana strongly and actively supports the WTO mandate to limit fisheries subsidies that contribute to overcapacity and overfishing. The new roadmap offers a productive way for negotiators to move forward in implementing an effective agreement that achieves these objectives.
There is consensus by WTO members on the need and importance of curtailing subsidies that encourage overfishing. It would be a tremendous waste, particularly in light of current financial and environmental pressures, to lose this opportunity to stop overfishing subsidies.
The WTO fisheries subsidies negotiations are one of the most important international efforts to stop global overfishing. The fisheries subsidies negotiations represent the first time that the WTO has agreed to directly address a key environmental issue. A strong fisheries subsidies agreement would demonstrate that the WTO is committed to and can make an effective contribution towards solving global environmental challenges.
The world’s fisheries continue to deteriorate from overfishing by both industrialized and developing countries. Time is running out for world’s fisheries and the WTO to do its part to reverse global overfishing. The world depends upon healthy fisheries and this can only be achieved if subsidies are substantially reduced. All WTO members, regardless of size or status, made the commitment and now have the responsibility to achieve this common goal.
According to a recent report by The World Bank, The Sunken Billions, fishing subsidies create perverse incentives for continued fishing in the face of declining catches. The result is greater investment and fishing effort in over-stressed fisheries, reinforcing the sector’s poverty trap.
Subsidies are a key driver of global overfishing, 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. According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), more than 75 percent of the world’s fisheries are currently overexploited, fully exploited, significantly depleted or recovering from overexploitation.