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.