Trade Policy Essential to Sustainable Seafood Movement
Press Release Date: October 29, 2009
Location: Geneva, Switzerland
Fisheries experts descended on Geneva today to stress the importance of global trade policy to assuring a future with sustainable seafood and healthy oceans. The delegation, including award-winning actor and Oceana board member Ted Danson and Julie Packard, executive director of the Monterey Bay Aquarium and trustee of the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, describes the growing global demand for seafood as the driving force behind the collapse of ocean ecosystems.
“The oceans are in serious trouble, but I am encouraged by new signs of hope and progress,” said Danson.
High demand for seafood products from developed countries, coupled with increasing affluence among the rising middle class in developing regions such as East and Southeast Asia, are expected to drive increases in the demand for seafood by as much as 10 percent annually. According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, more than 80 percent of the world’s fisheries are now overexploited, fully exploited, significantly depleted or recovering from depletion.
Released on its 25th anniversary, the benchmark report Turning the Tide: The State of Seafood describes the Aquarium’s role in creating what has become a global sustainable seafood movement. Over the past decade, the Aquarium has moved tens of millions of consumers to purchase sustainably caught seafood and convinced corporate giants, such as Wal-Mart, Compass Group North America and ARAMARK, to commit to sourcing sustainable seafood.
“We are turning the tide for the oceans,” said Packard. “Fishermen and consumers, major businesses and governments all recognize the urgency of the threats, and are cooperating in new ways to find solutions. Effective public policy is absolutely essential if these collaborative efforts are to succeed.”
The World Trade Organization (WTO) is currently engaged in a dedicated negotiation on fisheries subsidies. Subsidies promote overcapacity and overfishing by pushing fleets to fish longer, harder and farther away than would otherwise be possible. Global fisheries subsidies are estimated to be at least $20 billion annually, an amount equivalent to approximately 25 percent of the value of the world catch.
“A global problem deserves global action,” said Courtney Sakai, senior campaign director at Oceana.
“The oceans need a WTO deal on fish.”