World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and Oceana, the international ocean advocacy organization, today applauded progress being made to move WTO negotiations forward, prompting solutions to urgent global fishing issues: most notably, wasteful fishing subsidies. For the first time, the United States has tabled a paper that addresses how to help eliminate these subsidies within the framework of the WTO.
This environmental nod comes as WTO members are meeting in Geneva this week to discuss how to implement commitments made at the Doha Ministerial and the World Summit on Sustainable Development. In its paper, the U.S. outlines approaches for improving the rules governing subsidies, calling for a possible expansion of the category of subsidies prohibited under current WTO rules, and improvements in the quality of fisheries subsidy notifications.
“The fundamental challenge is to craft WTO rules that contribute directly to sustainable development without an unlawful expansion of WTO authority. We applaud governments that are finally moving forward to discuss how to meet this test,” said Claudia Saladin, WWF's director of sustainable commerce.
WWF has repeatedly called on governments to eliminate the billions of dollars in wasteful subsidies that drive depletion of the world's fish stocks. “Until now, more than a year after the WTO's historic decision in Doha, countries like Japan have been dragging their feet on harmful fishing subsidies,” said Saladin. “Members of Friends of Fish - a network of countries, including the United States, New Zealand, Iceland, Australia Chile and Peru - have been working hard to move the negotiations forward and we are glad to see concrete submissions on the table.”
“Oceana supports efforts to eliminate subsidies that result in overfishing, destruction of ocean habitat and unacceptably high levels of bycatch,” said Pep Fuller, Oceana's senior international representative. “The U.S. paper is an important step towards meaningful action. We call on all nations to support these efforts as part of the commitment they made at the World Summit on Sustainable Development to eliminate such subsidies.”
To be a success, WWF and Oceana recommend that WTO rules on fishing subsidies:
-Effectively prohibit the most harmful types of fishing subsidies;
-Protect environmentally positive fishing subsidies as well as environmentally benign subsidies;
-Ensure that even permissible fishing subsidies avoid contributing to excess fishing capacity, overfishing, or destructive fishing practices;
-Subject all fishing subsidies to effective public monitoring and notification; and
-Provide mechanisms to guarantee that WTO fishing subsidies disciplines are administered with the appropriate participation of intergovernmental bodies and experts competent in fisheries management and protection of the marine environment.
-World Wildlife Fund's Ocean Rescue initiative works to safeguard marine ecosystems, end destructive fishing practices, stop illegal trade in marine wildlife and reduce pollution on land and sea. Ocean Rescue also promotes innovative market incentives for responsible fishing and works to reform government policies that undermine the ocean's web of life. Learn more about how trade agreements impact the environment and sustainable development at www.panda.org/balancetrade
Oceana is a non-profit international advocacy organization dedicated to protecting and restoring the world's oceans through policy advocacy, science, law and public education. Founded in 2001, Oceana's constituency includes members and activists from more than 150 countries and territories who are committed to saving the world's marine environment. For more information, please visit www.oceana.org .