New bill supports end of ‘overfishing subsidies’

August 8, 2012

United States Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced a new bill this month that signals US support for international action to stop government subsidies that lead to overfishing.

Specifically, the Fair Trade in Seafood Act (S. 3518) would establish the issue as a Principal Negotiating Objective of the US in the ongoing Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and World Trade Organisation (WTO)  round talks.

Oceana, the largest international advocacy group working solely to protect the world’s oceans, issued the following statement of support from Corry Westbrook, federal policy director:

“Oceana applauds Sen Wyden for introducing this important legislation. This bill will send an important message to our trading partners around the world by showing that stopping overfishing subsidies is a US trade priority.”

According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), 85 per cent of the world’s fisheries are fully exploited, overexploited, depleted, or recovering from depletion– the highest percentage since FAO began keeping records.

Many governments continue to provide significant subsidies that push their fleets to fish longer, harder and farther away than otherwise would be possible. Destructive fisheries subsidies are estimated to be at least USD 16 billion annually, an amount equivalent to approximately 20 per cent of the value of the world catch.

The scope and effects of these “overfishing subsidies” are so significant that eliminating them is the single greatest action that can be taken to protect the world’s oceans, Oceana states.

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