Trade May Help Address Global Overfishing, Oceana Says

Oceana experts described the World Trade Organization (WTO) as the best vehicle for addressing global overfishing at the 5th World Fisheries Congress in Yokohama, Japan, recently.

The presentation, "The World Trade Organization and Fisheries Subsidies: Using trade rules to reverse overfishing and promote sustainable fishing worldwide," provided insight into the ongoing WTO fisheries subsidies negotiations and described Oceana's work, which resulted in proposed rules that would provide significant conservation and management benefits.

"A key solution for addressing global overfishing is not found through traditional fisheries management, but through trade," said Courtney Sakai, senior campaign director at Oceana. "The international science community has identified reducing subsidies as one of the most significant actions to combat global overfishing. The WTO negotiations provide the best opportunity to stop overfishing subsidies."

Fisheries subsidies promote 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. Earlier this month, The World Bank and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization released a new report, finding that the marine industry loses up to $50 billion annually because of poor management and overfishing. It also concluded that economics justifies the universal elimination of fisheries subsidies.

The WTO is currently engaged in a dedicated negotiation on fisheries subsidies as part of its Doha trade round. The fisheries subsidies negotiations represent the first time that conservation concerns, in addition to commerce priorities, have led to the launch of a specific trade negotiation.

Oceana campaigns to protect and restore the world's oceans. Its marine scientists, economists, lawyers, and advocates win specific and concrete policy changes to reduce pollution and to prevent the irreversible collapse of fish populations, marine mammals, and other sea life.

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