Oceana welcomed a very distinguished visitor yesterday. We hosted the Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO), Pascal Lamy, along with representatives of 10 major U.S. environmental organizations in a roundtable discussion at our headquarters in Washington, D.C. The roundtable focused on promoting an open and active dialogue about trade and the environment and the WTO’s ability to address both.
The WTO is currently engaged in a dedicated negotiation on fisheries subsidies as part of the Doha Round. These negotiations are historic because they are the first time that conservation considerations, in addition to commerce priorities, have led to the launch of a specific trade negotiation.
Fishing subsidies promote overfishing by pushing fleets to fish longer, harder and farther away than would otherwise be economically feasible. Overfishing subsidies are estimated to be at least $20 billion annually, an amount equal to approximately 25 percent of the value of the world catch.
Leading up to what will be one of the heaviest fisheries negotiating rounds in recent memory at the World Trade Organization, Oceana is in Geneva this week holding its Board of Directors meeting. Oceana is working to stop fishing subsidies by working with the WTO to produce new trade rules.
The board had a chance to meet with WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy, and Oceana was also welcomed into the Australian Mission, where CEO Andrew Sharpless spoke briefly on the state of the oceans and how the WTO can help.