An update on WTO negotiations to end subsidies for fisheries

by TNP Editor 2021-5-5

The World Trade Organization (WTO), under the direction of its new director-general, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, is making the protection of global fish stock from over fishing a top priority for WTO this year.


Okonjo-Iweala sees reaching the multilateral agreement in 2021 a key goal for her and critical to a ‘Watershed’ year for WTO.

A virtual conference is planned for July 2021 to negotiate and seal an accord to reduce or end subsidies for fisheries.

Besides enacting rules to eliminate ‘harmful subsidies’ and enforce sustainable fishing disciplines, key issues for the WTO talks include the type and extent of exemptions to be granted to developed and developing nations under the new accord.

Many seafaring nations aim at protecting their fishing fleets and coastal industries. On-going aids to their fisheries could range from fleet building grants to fuel subsidies.

world fishing employment

The top five providers of fisheries subsidies are China, the United States, the European Union, Japan and South Korea, whereas about 85% of the world’s commercial fishing employment, totaling 50 million people, is in Asia, according to the United Nations.


The Omega Principle: the quest for long life & healthier planet

by TNP Editor 2020-11-19

Another book we recommend: The Omega Principle is a thought provoking tome on the origin and consequences of a popular diet supplement – Omega-3 fatty acids.

Omega PrincipleWhile there are hardly any doubts about the benefits of Omega-3s, essential for healthy hearts and sharper minds, the global sensation of Omega-3s has engendered a vast, feverish effort to extract and exploit.

As Omega-3s are mostly derived from fish and other marine products, millions of marine life are involved, and unfortunately in some cases, the survival of “fish of all kinds” and many ocean creatures are at stake.

Here, Paul Greenberg, the bestselling author of Four Fish and American Catch, reviews the fascinating history of Omega-3s, from the dawn of complex life to human prehistory, when seafood consumption might have helped human’s cognitive leaps, then to the modern era, when Omega-3s are now firmly in the public conscience and entwined in our global food supply chains.

This book speaks to and advocates sustainable seafood harvesting practices and how we could pursue better health and longevity with responsible quests.

WTO negotiation continues while nations increase fishing subsidies

by TNP Editor 2019-10-10

High stake World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations are taking place in Geneva amongst ocean-faring nations to hammer out an agreement on fisheries subsidies… with 3 months remaining before the current deadline runs out.

WTO logoAs world populations grow and economic development continues to trend higher, many believe food production will need to double by 2050, and increasingly nations are looking to the oceans to feed their peoples. In 2016 alone, 171 million tons of fish were caught in the oceans. Global catch is expected to reach 200 million tons by 2025.

A survey by the University of British Columbia scientists estimated that ocean-faring nations had provided $35 billion to support their fishing industries in 2018, of which $22 billion was spent on harmful subsidies.

By definition, ‘harmful subsidies‘ support illegal and over fishing that would not otherwise be economical, e.g. subsidies on fuel costs to allow industrial trawling at the far flung fishing grounds of the world’s oceans. Fuel subsidies alone accounted for 22 percent of all fishing subsidies.

If current population trends continue, as fisheries remain the primary source of protein for many developing nations, current food supply will not be adequate to feed a growing world population.

Hence, marine scientists and policy experts believe a legally binding accord to ban destructive fishing subsidies is both possible and necessary.

American Catch: the fight for our local seafood

by TNP Editor 2018-12-12

American Catch is a fascinating book by Paul Greenberg, bestselling author of Four Fish. It narrates the story of why and how American seafood exports have exploded in recent years. And, by contrast,  how Americans have come to import much of the seafood they eat.

American oysters, shrimp and salmon are amongst the wild seafood being exported. Sockeye salmon, with its most nutritionally dense proteins, is especially prized by many around the world.

At the same time, 91% of the seafood Americans consume are imports – wild and farmed.

Greenberg reviewed the challenges the seafood industry faces and how precious renewable resources can be better protected by fishermen, environmentalists and local authorities alike.

This is a good read on how we can change our consumption patterns and become more sustainable in what we eat and how we catch.

Fish hunt yields monster lionfish in Key Largo

by TNP editor 2017-02-19

According to Miami Herald, a lionfish measured over 450 mm was caught during a weekend fishing derby off Key Largo, part of the Florida Keys. While the one-day weekend event for 48 Scuba divers, held annually since 2012, seemed to be a success, the single-day catches of 420 lionfish highlight the seriousness of such a problem – an invasive species that feeds on 50 important species of native fish has firmly established itself in the western Atlantic waters.

So how did lionfish, tropical natives of the Pacific, find their way to Florida and the Atlantic coast?  It was suggested that lionfish were inadvertently released from an aquarium during the hurricane Andrew in 1992. As lionfish are highly reproductive (an adult female can spawn 30,000 eggs every few days), they are now widespread in the Virgin Islands, Bahamas, Bermuda, and along the coastlines of Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. And they don’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon.

Unfortunately, the window of eradicating this invasive species may have passed. Catching lionfish through divers may be the only viable method to control their population. We humans are doing what we do best – trying to eat our way out of a problem caused by the unwelcome invaders.

Lionfish fillets are now offered at Florida Whole Foods Market stores at $8.99 per pound. bon appétit.

A turnaround at Sanya National Coral Reef Nature Reserve?

by Austin Yeung 2016-12-30

The proceedings of ICRS13, the 13th International Coral Reef Symposium, held in June 2016 at the Honolulu Convention Center, has now been published.

To learn more, click here to go to the ICRS13 proceedings page or download its table of contents here.

My paper with Prof. David M. Baker at the University of Hong Kong:

Session 80: A.H. Yeung, D.M. Baker (2016) A turnaround at Sanya National Coral Reef Nature Reserve?

Proc 13th Intl Coral Reef Symposium Honolulu: 561-580

can also be downloaded here at Researchgate.

Austin Yeung receives ICRS award

by TNP Editor  2016-06-26

Congratulations to Austin Yeung for receiving a student poster award at the 13th International Coral Reef Symposium (ICRS), Honolulu, Hawaii.

Sanctioned by International Society for Reef Studies (ISRS) and held once every 4 years, the symposium took place on June 19-25, 2016 at the Honolulu Convention Center, and brought together the world’s students, researchers, and scholars in coral reef science, as well as sovereign and conservation management leaders.

A member of NaturePac and currently attending Shanghai American School, Austin is advised by Dr. David M. Baker, a biology professor at the Swire Institute of Marine Science, School of Biological Sciences, University of Hong Kong.

Malaysia creates large MPA in Sabah

by Alan Yeung  2016-06-04

Sabah announces a ‘huge’ marine protected area and shark sanctuary with over 1 million hectares covering the peninsula and 50 islands.  It is named Tun Mustapha Park (TMP) after the first official, and will officially be the biggest marine park and second largest coral reef reserve in Malaysia.

The outcome culminates over ten years of government, scientific, community, and nonprofit organization efforts.  The area is worth protecting because of its richness in biodiversity and its impact on local fisheries.

In a 2012 baseline study, Waheed et al. reported 49% of the hard coral cover in TMP, mostly fringing and patch reefs, are in good to excellent condition. Yet, only 7% of the surveyed reefs had 75% or more coverage. There is evidence of blast and poison fishing, but the damages, such as rubble fragments, appear to be old.  Overfishing also seems to be an issue as turtles, sharks and other high-value reef species are missing.

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