New WTO Fisheries Subsidies Document Creates Path for Negotiations
Geneva -- The World Trade Organization (WTO) today
issued a new working document by Rules Negotiating Group Chairman
Guillermo Valles Galmes. The document covers all areas of the Rules
group negotiations, which includes fisheries subsidies, general
subsidies and anti-dumping. The document provides a description of the
views and proposals of WTO members related to the Rules text that was
presented by Chairman Valles in November 2007.
Sakai, senior campaign director at Oceana, issued the following
statement in response to the fisheries subsidies section of the new
The fisheries subsidies negotiations are
an important component of the Doha Round and have the potential to
deliver tremendous economic and conservation benefits. A strong
fisheries subsidies agreement is not only achievable but will send an
important message to the world about the ability of trading nations to
address environmental issues.
The future of the
world's fishery resources are at stake in the Doha Round. The economic
hardship that fishing communities everywhere are now facing as a result
of systematic overfishing make WTO action to control destructive
fisheries subsidies even more urgent. The new Rules document makes it
clear that there are important areas in the fisheries subsidies
negotiations where there are differences among Members. The document
should motivate WTO members to focus on the continuation of the
negotiations and the areas where work is needed to reach agreement on
strengthened rules for fisheries subsidies. The world depends upon
healthy fishery resources and this can only be achieved if subsidies
are substantially reduced. All WTO members, regardless of their size
and status, have a responsibility to work towards achieving this common
Earlier this week, Oceana released a new report that found more than 80 percent of the world's fisheries cannot withstand increased fishing activity and only 17 percent should be considered capable of any growth at all. The report asserts that there are no hidden reserves of fish. Instead, in order to ensure an abundant fish supply and healthy resource, fishery management must be improved and the economic pressures that lead to overfishing, particularly subsidies, must be reduced.
Also this week, nearly 70 ocean and
fishery scientists from 16 countries called upon the WTO to stop
overfishing subsidies in new outdoor advertisements throughout Geneva.
More than a billion people worldwide depend on fish as a key source of protein. Fishing activities support hundreds of millions of people who depend on fishing for all or part of their income. 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 scope and magnitude of these subsidies is so great that reducing them is the single greatest action that can be taken to protect the world's oceans.
For more information about fisheries subsidies and Oceana's Cut the Bait campaign, please visit http://www.cutthebait.org/.