[MARMAM] Global Fisheries Subsidies hurt marine mammals

Griffin, Elizabeth EGriffin at oceana.org
Thu May 10 08:52:09 PDT 2007


 

Dear Colleagues: 

 

Oceana is pushing the World Trade Organization (WTO) for an end to
global fisheries subsidies that lead to overfishing.  Fisheries
subsidies hurt marine mammals by increasing fishing effort, which can
decrease prey availability and increase bycatch.  In addition, fisheries
subsidies in some countries have been linked to whaling.  Extensive
information on the WTO, fisheries subsidies, and our work is available
on our website.  

 

One of our current initiatives is a scientist sign on letter that asks
Pascal Lamy, Director-General of the World Trade Organization, to push
for as strong an outcome as possible in the WTO negotiations to
eliminate harmful fisheries subsidies. Daniel Pauly, Boris Worm and
Ussif Rashid Sumaila are the lead signers, and we hope they will be
joined by scientists from around the world. 

 

If you are interested in more information about our work, please check
out 
http://www.oceana.org/north-america/what-we-do/stop-overfishing-subsidie
s/
<http://www.oceana.org/north-america/what-we-do/stop-overfishing-subsidi
es/>  or if you would like to be a signer to the letter, please reply to
me at Egriffin at Oceana.org.

 

Thank you,

 

Elizabeth Griffin

 

 

Elizabeth Griffin| Marine Wildlife Scientist

________________________________________
 

     | Protecting the World's Oceans
2501 M Street NW, Suite 300 | Washington, DC 20037 USA
T  +1.202.467.1913 | F +1.202.833.2070 | C +1.202.271.5645 

E egriffin at oceana.org | W www.oceana.org <http://www.oceana.org/>  

 

May XX, 2007

 

Director-General Pascal Lamy

World Trade Organization

Centre William Rappard

Rue de Lausanne 154

CH-1211 Geneva 21

Switzerland

 

Dear Director-General Lamy:

 

As members of the international science community, we write to you with
our grave concern about the state of the world's oceans.  The World
Trade Organization (WTO) has an unprecedented and unequalled opportunity
to contribute to stopping global overfishing by significantly reducing
worldwide subsidies to the fishing sector.  An ambitious outcome in the
ongoing WTO fisheries subsidies negotiations is vital to the future of
the world's fisheries.  It is our great hope that you will use your
leadership to guide the WTO to meet this global challenge. 

 

We have spent lifetimes dedicated to studying the oceans ecosystems and
marine fisheries.  Many of us remember a time only decades ago when the
oceans were viewed as vast storehouses of protein, able to provide food
to an increasingly hungry world, food that could be provided by
fishermen relying on technology and scientific management.  At that
time, many of us also started to observe the decline of some fish
populations.  

 

But we had little idea how massive the problem would become.  Modern
fishing technology is capable of catching fish at amounts and in places
we never would have envisioned.  The majority of the world's fish
populations are in jeopardy from overfishing and if current trends
continue, will be beyond recovery within decades.  

 

Fish populations, as well as many other ocean species, have been
depleted to a fraction of their historical level.  Many of these fish
are at the top of the marine food chain, and their disappearance can
trigger cascading adverse effects throughout the marine ecosystem. 

*         Ninety percent of all the "big fish"-large-bodied sharks,
tuna, marlin and swordfish - have disappeared as the result of
industrialized fishing;[1] 

*         The decline of many ocean species is increasingly impairing
the ocean's capacity to provide food, maintain water quality, and
recover from perturbations.[2]

*         Despite massive technological advances and increased effort,
global catches of food fish have been declining for more than a
decade.[3]

 

There is no longer any question -we have reached a critical state.  The
world's ocean ecosystems are at a tipping point, and overfishing
represents one of the greatest threats to their productivity.

 

Yet despite the precarious state of the oceans, many governments
continue to provide significant subsidies to their fishing sector.
Fisheries subsidies produce such strong economic incentives to overfish
that reducing them is one of the most significant actions that can be
taken to combat global overfishing.  The WTO negotiations represent the
best opportunity to control worldwide subsidies to the fishing sector.  

 

According to a new study, fisheries subsidies amount to $30 to $34
billion annually, and at least $20 billion go directly towards
supporting fishing capacity, such as boats, fuel, equipment, and other
operating costs.[4]  These subsidies equal approximately 25 percent of
worldwide fishing revenue.  

 

Fisheries subsidies are not only a major driver of overfishing, but
promote other destructive fishing practices.  For example, high seas
bottom trawling, a practice so environmentally-destructive that the
United Nations has called on nations to severely restrict it, would not
be profitable without its large subsidies for fuel.  Subsidies have also
been documented to support illegal, unregulated, and unreported (IUU)
fishing - a serious impediment to achieving sustainable fisheries.

 

There are only decades left before the damage we have inflicted on the
oceans becomes permanent.  We are at a crossroads.  One road leads to a
world with tremendously diminished marine life.  The other leads to one
with oceans again teeming with abundance, where the world can rely on
the oceans for protein, and enjoy its wildlife.  The choices we make
today will determine our path for the future.  

 

Global overfishing is one of the greatest threats to the oceans.
Massive government subsidies continue to perpetuate and exacerbate this
problem.  The WTO fisheries subsidies negotiations are historic in their
intent to address a major environmental issue in the context of trade.
But the results of this negotiation go far beyond trade - they will
directly impact our ability to ensure the long-term sustainability of
the world's fisheries.

 

The WTO has in its hands the opportunity to effect one of the greatest
changes towards protecting the world's oceans.  We urge you to use your
skill and leadership to significantly 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.

 

 

Sincerely,

 

 





cc:        Ambassador Guillermo Valles Galmes of Uruguay 

Chairman, WTO Negotiating Group on Rules

 

[1] R. Myers & B. Worm, Rapid Worldwide Depletion of  Predatory Fish
Communities. Nature, May 15, 2003, Vol., 423, p. 280-283

[1] B. Worm et al., Impacts of Biodiversity Loss on Ocean Ecosystems
Services. Science, November 3, 2006, Vol. 314, p. 787-790

[1] R. Watson & D. Pauly, Systematic distortions in world fisheries
catch trends. Nature November 29, 2001, 414, p. 534-536

4 Sumaila, U. R. and D. Pauly (Editors) 2006. Catching More Bait: A
Bottom-up Re-estimation of Global Fisheries Subsidies. Fisheries Centre
Research Reports Vol. 14(6) 114 pp.




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[1] R. Myers & B. Worm, Rapid Worldwide Depletion of  Predatory Fish
Communities. Nature, May 15, 2003, Vol., 423, p. 280-283

[2] B. Worm et al., Impacts of Biodiversity Loss on Ocean Ecosystems
Services. Science, November 3, 2006, Vol. 314, p. 787-790

[3] R. Watson & D. Pauly, Systematic distortions in world fisheries
catch trends. Nature November 29, 2001, 414, p. 534-536

 

4 Sumaila, U. R. and D. Pauly (Editors) 2006. Catching More Bait: A
Bottom-up Re-estimation of Global Fisheries Subsidies. Fisheries Centre
Research Reports Vol. 14(6) 114 pp.

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