Scientists call on WTO to stop overfishing


SeafoodSource staff

Published on
December 1, 2009

Oceana scientists are calling on the World Trade Organization to control fishing subsidies, which are leading to fleet overcapacity and ultimately overfishing.

In a letter delivered on Tuesday to WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy at the WTO’s Seventh Ministerial Conference in Geneva, nine leading marine scientists said the WTO has an unprecedented opportunity to enact new trade rules to protect global fish stocks.

The scientists urged the WTO to “continue to use your leadership to achieve a successful outcome in the fisheries subsidies negotiations and demonstrate to the world that the WTO can play a constructive role in solving problems of global consequence.”

The scientists cited data from the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization showing that global fish stocks have declined an additional 5 percent since the Doha Trade Round started in 2001. According to the FAO, 80 percent of the world’s fisheries are overexploited, fully exploited, significantly depleted or recovering from overexploitation.

The letter also pointed to a recent World Bank study that found an estimated USD 50 billion (EUR 33 billion) is lost worldwide annually due to poor fisheries governance and overexploitation.

The letter also said climate change is heightening the need to combat overfishing.

The WTO is currently engaged in negotiations on fishing subsidies as part of the Doha Trade Round. Global fishing subsidies are valued at about USD 20 billion (EUR 13 billion) annually, which represents about one-quarter of the global fish catch.

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