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.
- Oceana Provides Comments to President Obama’s Task Force to Tackle Illegal Fishing and Seafood Fraud Posted Wed, September 10, 2014
- Sharks and Rays Gain International Protection under CITES Listing Posted Sun, September 14, 2014
- Ocean Roundup: Healthy Corals Mean More Sharks, Extinct Dolphin Found in Peruvian Desert, and More Posted Thu, September 11, 2014
- Ocean Roundup: Shark-Eating Dinosaur Fossils Discovered, Germany Paving Way for Cheaper Wind Energy, and More Posted Mon, September 15, 2014
- How Does Your Sunscreen Impact Marine Life? Posted Tue, September 9, 2014