World Trade Organization (WTO) Director-General Pascal Lamy met with representatives of 10 major U.S. environmental organizations at a roundtable discussion hosted by Oceana today in Washington, D.C. The roundtable focused on promoting an open and active dialogue about trade and the environment and the ability of the WTO to address both.
"Trade and the environment can be mutually supportive,” said WTO Director-General Lamy. “We now have an opportunity to strengthen this link by delivering on the environment mandate of the Doha Round."
The WTO is currently engaged in a dedicated negotiation on fisheries subsidies as part of the Doha Round. These negotiations are historic in that they are the first time that conservation considerations, in addition to commerce priorities, have led to the launch of a specific trade negotiation.
“We can no longer think about trade and the environment separately,” said Dr. Michael Hirshfield, senior vice president for North America and chief scientist at Oceana. “Trade can benefit the environment. In order to effectively help stop global overfishing, we must reduce harmful fisheries subsidies. The WTO presents the best opportunity to address fisheries subsidies on a global scale. A successful Doha Round deal must include fish. Time is running out and if Doha fails, the oceans lose.”
About Fisheries Subsidies
More than a billion people depend on fish as a key source of protein and hundreds of millions of people depend on fishing for income. Yet according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, 80 percent of the world’s fisheries are now overexploited, fully exploited, significantly depleted or recovering from overexploitation.
Despite international consensus on the dire state of the oceans, many governments continue to provide major subsidies to their fishing sectors. These 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.
To learn more about Oceana and its campaign to stop overfishing subsidies, please visit www.CutTheBait.org.