Halt of “Overfishing Subsidies” Essential to Economic Stability and Human Livelihood | Oceana

Halt of “Overfishing Subsidies” Essential to Economic Stability and Human Livelihood

Press Release Date: June 8, 2010

Location: Geneva, Switzerland


Anna Baxter | email: abaxter@oceana.org
Anna Baxter

Today, Oceana called on G-20 leaders and the World Trade Organization (WTO) to stop overfishing subsidies and stressed the importance of healthy oceans to human livelihood and economic stability.

“In a time when environmental concerns seem limitless and solutions rare, the WTO has the opportunity to address one of the greatest problems facing the world’s oceans,” said Courtney Sakai, senior campaign director at Oceana. “An international agreement that limits global fisheries subsidies would be a huge success for the oceans and set new precedents for addressing trade and the environment.”

The WTO is currently engaged in a dedicated negotiation to address fishing subsidies as part of its Doha trade round. The WTO provides the best opportunity to address the problem of overfishing subsidies in a global and legally enforceable way.

“The world’s governments should not be allowed to subsidize the depletion of our oceans,” said Sakai. “Unlike the complexity of correcting other environmental disasters, the political decision to stop spending billions of dollars to promote overfishing is a key to healthy fisheries.”

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 many governments provide significant subsidies to their fishing sectors that promote overfishing. These 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.

In May, Mission Blue called on G-20 leaders to not further expand fishing subsidy programs and to make a strong outcome in the WTO fisheries subsidies negotiations a top priority. The letter expressed grave concern about the state of the world’s fisheries and was signed by nearly 70 Mission Blue participants, including world-renowned oceanographer Dr. Sylvia Earle, TED curator Chris Anderson, Oceana CEO Andrew Sharpless, award-winning celebrities Leonardo DiCaprio, Glenn Close, Ed Norton and Chevy Chase, and leading fisheries scientist Dr. Daniel Pauly. G-20 leaders will meet at a Summit on June 26 and 27 in Toronto.