Most ocean conservationists are on pins and needles in anticipation of the results of this week's International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting. But I'm also thinking about another three letter acronym and how much good may be coming out of it. W-T-O. That's right, the World Trade Organization.
In Geneva (and at the current Doha round) there's serious talk of cutting government subsidies for commercial fishing - the fundamental driver for the unsustainable exploitation of the oceans. I just returned from there, where I met with Pascal Lamy - head of the WTO, and, together with Professor Rashid Sumaila of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, briefed a large number of the delegates.
Government subsidies of $30-34 billion (to an industry whose dockside revenues are $80 billion) swell the global fishing fleet to something like 200% of sustainable capacity. It's no wonder that scientists predict the collapse of our fisheries by mid-century. These subsidies can only be eliminated through multi-lateral action, since all countries will refuse to unilaterally disarm in the race to capture the last wild fish. That makes the WTO the best place where real change can happen.
I made a pit stop in London to help fuel some media attention on the issue. Check out the terrific piece in Canada's Globe and Mail, liberally quoting economist Sumaila, author of the most recent global study on subsidies.
- Ocean Roundup: Seafood Fraud Ring Uncovered in Australia, Fish Species Found to Change Skin Color, and More Posted Fri, October 17, 2014
- Ocean News: Sea Turtle Nesting in Florida Sees Steady Increase, 2014 Could Be Hottest on Record, and More Posted Tue, October 21, 2014
- Video: Oceana Makes Plea for Mediterranean Swordfish, Says EU Overlooking Its Decline Posted Wed, October 15, 2014
- CEO Note: President Obama Designates Largest Marine Reserve in the World Posted Fri, October 17, 2014
- CEO Note: Introducing Lars “Lasse” Gustavsson, Oceana in Europe’s New Senior Vice President and Executive Director Posted Tue, October 21, 2014