Reduce Subsidies That Lead To Overfishing

The Fish Site
by The Fish Site
15 July 2010, at 1:00am

US - The US Senate is being urged to reduce subsidies to fish farmers, in a bid to stop overfishing.

A campaign, created by Oceana, but led by actor and Oceana board member Ted Danson, testified before the Subcommitte on International Trade, Customs and Global Competitiveness of the Senate Committee on Finance earlier this week.

In the hearing entitled "Marine Wealth: Promoting Conservation and Advancing American Exports", Mr Danson described how government subsidies negatively impact the oceans and global seafood market as well as explained why sustainable fishing is necessary to preserve ocean health and jobs.

"There’s an inextricable link between ocean conservation and global competitiveness,” said Danson. “It’s quite simple – No fish. No fishermen. No future.”

The World Trade Organisation (WTO) is currently engaged in a dedicated negotiation on fisheries subsidies as part of the Doha trade round. Yet despite international consensus on the dire state of the oceans, many governments continue to provide major subsidies to their fishing sectors. These subsidies promote overfishing by pushing fleets to fish longer, harder and farther away than would otherwise be economically feasible.

“Reducing subsidies is a necessary action to reverse global overfishing, and the WTO negotiations are our best chance,” said Mr Danson. “The world needs a fisheries subsidies agreement and soon. US jobs and competitiveness are at risk.”

Global fisheries subsidies are estimated to be at least $20 billion annually – an amount equivalent to approximately 25 per cent of the value of the world fish catch. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation, 80 per cent of the world’s fisheries are now overexploited, fully exploited, significantly depleted or recovering from overexploitation. Because many of these species are at the top of the ocean food chain, their depletion is disrupting marine ecosystems worldwide.