The only thing worse than overfishing our oceans and driving species to the brink of extinction is the government paying to do it. That's been the case for far too long, as upwards of $30 billion (that's billion, with a "b") worth of subsidies are handed over to the fishing industry every year. A whopping $20 billion of that are used for things like boat repairs, fishing equipment and fuel; expenses that allow for increased and intensified fishing practices.
This soon could be a thing of the past, now that 13 senators - from across the political spectrum -- introduced a resolution on Thursday night calling for the United States to pursue an international ban on government subsidies to the fishing industry. Days before, the U.S. Ambassador to the World Trade Organization, proposed a broad prohibition against fisheries subsidies at WTO negotiations in Geneva including delegates representing the WTO's 150-member countries.
The WTO is the best chance for success in eliminating these harmful fisheries subsidies, so we need an overall deal in the Doha round of trade talks, which remains to be seen.
What is certain is that if the depletion of ocean species continues at current rates, our seafood supply could collapse before the middle of the century. According to a groundbreaking report in Science last year, scientists are concerned about the effects of marine species loss on our supply of wild seafood and other essential ecosystem goods or services. Using global catch data they found that catches of 29 percent of wild populations of seafood have already dropped to less than 10 percent of their maximum.
- Congress Advances Legislation to Fight Pirate Fishing, Keep Illegally-Caught Seafood Out of U.S. Market Posted Fri, September 19, 2014
- Photos: Oceana Launches Expedition to El Hierro Island and Atlantic Seamounts Posted Thu, September 18, 2014
- High Level of Seafood Fraud Found in Denmark Posted Sat, September 20, 2014
- Ocean Roundup: Shark-Eating Dinosaur Fossils Discovered, Germany Paving Way for Cheaper Wind Energy, and More Posted Mon, September 15, 2014
- Oceana Magazine: Arctic Assets Posted Thu, September 18, 2014