WTO Can Address One of World’s Greatest Environmental Challenges
Press Release Date: November 30, 2009
Location: Geneva, Switzerland
Oceana’s senior campaign director Courtney Sakai issued the following statement today as the Seventh World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial Conference began in Geneva, Switzerland. As the WTO considers its past, present and future at this week’s (30 November to 2 December 2009) meeting, Oceana asserts that the fisheries subsidies negotiations are the WTO’s environmental “good news” story and should not be forgotten.
“In stark contrast to the contention occurring in the streets of Geneva this weekend, a look inside the WTO will find it on the brink of producing a solution to one of the world’s greatest environmental challenges.
The WTO fisheries subsidies negotiations are one of the most important international efforts to stop global overfishing. The urgency of this issue has generated consensus for action from all points of the compass – countries large and small, from North and South, as well as other interests that are often at odds.
The consideration of fisheries subsidies by the WTO is the first time that sustainability and environmental concerns led to the launch of a specific trade negotiation. The work by the WTO on fisheries subsidies shows the promise of the multilateral trading system to address major environmental problems. A successful outcome on fisheries subsidies could be the first real and tangible example of trade and the environment.”
About Fisheries Subsidies:
The WTO is engaged in a dedicated negotiation on fisheries subsidies as part of the Doha trade round. 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 fish catch. These subsidies are driving the rampant overcapacity and overfishing that threatens the viability of an essential nutrition source and the ecosystems that cover more than two-thirds of the planet.
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. This includes populations of high commercial value. Because many of these species are at the top of the ocean food chain, their depletion is disrupting marine ecosystems worldwide. In addition, more than a billion people worldwide depend on fish as a key source of protein and hundreds of millions, in both developed and developing countries, depend on fishing for income.
Oceana is an international organization dedicated to the protection and restoration of marine resources. Oceana serves as a formal advisor to the United States government on trade and environment policy and chairs a dedicated task force on fisheries. Oceana is participating in the Ministerial Conference as an official observer and as part of the Untied States delegation.