Ted Danson, award-winning actor and longtime ocean advocate, met with World Trade Organization (WTO) Director-General Pascal Lamy tonight about the threat subsidies pose to the world's fisheries and how the WTO can halt this major catalyst of global overfishing. Danson's visit to Geneva coincides with a critical point in ongoing WTO negotiations on fisheries subsidies in which a draft agreement is expected within weeks.
"The WTO has a vital contribution to make in protecting the world's fish stock, in saving it from depletion," said Lamy.
Oceana, the world's largest organization dedicated to protecting and restoring the world's oceans, also released a new paper this week that offers 5 steps the WTO can take to promote sustainability in a trade agreement on fisheries subsidies. Some key recommendations include that subsidies should only be provided to fisheries that are not overexploited and by countries that have effective fishery management systems in place.
"It is time we start thinking of blue as the new green," said Danson. "If we want the world to be able to eat fish and make a living off of the oceans, we must stop the subsidies that are driving the collapse of the world's fisheries."
A 2006 study by a leading team of international fishery scientists concluded that the 29 percent of the world's fisheries are in collapse and if current overfishing trends continue all commercial fish populations will be beyond repair within decades (by 2048). A recent study by the University of British Columbia estimates harmful subsidies - those that promote fishing capacity - to be at least $20 billion annually, an amount equivalent to approximately 25 percent of the value of the world catch.
About Ted Danson: You might know Ted Danson from his lead role in the hit TV series Cheers, but for over twenty he has been dedicated to marine conservation. Danson began his environmental career in 1987 when he started the American Oceans Campaign. In 2001, he joined forces with Oceana to create a greater global impact for the world's oceans and today remains seated on Oceana's board of directors.
About Oceana: Oceana campaigns to protect and restore the world's oceans. Our teams of marine scientists, economists, lawyers and advocates win specific and concrete policy changes to reduce pollution and to prevent the irreversible collapse of fish populations, marine mammals and other sea life. Global in scope and dedicated to conservation, Oceana has campaigners based in North America (Washington, DC; Juneau, AK; Monterey, CA; Portland, OR), Europe (Madrid, Spain; Brussels, Belgium) and South America (Santiago, Chile). More than 300,000 members and e-activists in over 150 countries have already joined Oceana.