“Oceana is extremely disappointed by the failure of the WTO to reach agreement on the key areas in the Doha round. Other important negotiating areas, such as fisheries subsidies, have unfortunately fallen victim to the collapse of larger issues within the round,” has declared Courtney Sakai, senior campaign director of Oceana based in the United States.
The WTO fisheries subsidies negotiations are one of the most important international efforts to stop global overfishing. The fisheries subsidies negotiations represent the first time that the WTO has agreed to directly address a key environmental issue. The Doha round provided the best opportunity to address fisheries subsidies on a global scale.
The Doha round has taken seven years, while the world’s fisheries continue to deteriorate. Around the WTO ministerial, developed and developing countries underscored the increased urgency of the fisheries subsidies negotiations in light of food security, livelihood and poverty reduction concerns.
WTO members continue to agree that rules on subsidies are needed to help ensure the sustainability of the world’s fishery resources. The work done on fisheries subsidies to date suggests an agreement is achievable. It would be a tremendous waste if the progress on fisheries subsidies is not realized. We must use the momentum achieved so far to find a way forward.
Subsidies promote overfishing, 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. According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), more than 75 percent of the world’s fisheries are currently overexploited, fully exploited, significantly depleted or recovering from overexploitation.
Julie Cator, Policy Director of Oceana-Europe, adds: “Global rules to limit fisheries subsidies would be particularly useful in Europe, where some governments are determined to respond to the demands of their already heavily subsidised fleets for even more subsidies to cover operating costs such as fuel. This does not tackle the chronic overcapacity of the EU fleet and merely contributes to further overfishing”.