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2 months ago

World Leaders Have a Chance to Avert Catastrophe in Our Oceans

TomoNews US
TomoNews US
GENEVA — The WTO’s 12th Ministerial Conference is meeting this week in an attempt to end 20 years of negotiations over harmful fishing subsidies, responding to the reality that global fish production is currently nine times higher than it was in 1950, and over 34 percent of the world’s assessed fish stocks are being overfished, according to the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization.

The primary issue at stake here is that much of the fishing behind those figures is economically unviable and thus is being effectively propped up by massive government subsidies, according to the U.N. Secretary-General's Special Envoy for the Ocean writing on the World Economic Forum’s website.

The current draft text of a deal is designed to eliminate subsidies that contribute to overcapacity or overfishing, as well as facilitating illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, which is rife in the industry.

It attempts to do this by blocking payments for the construction or upgrading of vessels, or contributions to costs of fuel, for instance.

India’s Financial Express says any agreement over a final text is being publicly challenged by New Delhi, which says the current draft favors countries with already established distant-water fishing industries.

As an alternative India is proposing developed countries that fish outside of their own waters should not be able to provide fishery subsidies for 25 years, while developing countries are given more time to comply with restrictions.

In pushing for the total removal of harmful subsidies, the U.N. Secretary-General's Special Envoy for the Ocean points out that large-scale fishing fleets are pushing out smaller operations and that if we were to remove all harmful fisheries subsidies, we could have a 12.5 percent increase in fish biomass by 2050, to the benefit of those smaller operations.

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