World Trade Organization Negotiations on Ending Harmful Fisheries Subsidies

The entire world depends on a healthy ocean and the resources it provides. When the marine populations decline the human population also pays a price. But hundreds of millions of people in coastal communities are particularly vulnerable and for them continued access to fishing is a matter of immediate survival. At least $22 billion is spent every year to put these communities at an even greater disadvantage.

The number one driver of declines in marine populations continues to be unsustainable fishing. Yet governments around the world continue to endorse unsustainable practices by spending tens of billions of dollars of taxpayer’s dollars each year on the harmful subsidies that drive overfishing—off-seting the costs of fuel for distance water fleets and paying for industry to big even bigger boats to chase after fewer fish.

Imagine if $22 billion dollars were spent on smart subsidies that benefit coastal communities and ocean health. That kind of budget would go a long way toward reducing illegal, unregulated and unreported (UU) fishing, which often uses the most environmentally destructive fishing practices.

It is time for world leaders to bring decades of negotiation to a close and agree to end harmful fisheries subsidies.

WWF is one of nearly 60 organizations that have called on the World Trade Organization to end taxpayer funding for the depletion of ocean resources. The need is urgent. Governments have a small window of time to reach an agreement that ends harmful fisheries subsidies. That means no loopholes for illegal fishing vessels looking to get back in the game and no special treatment for countries that still want to subsidize the practices that landed us where we are today.

Together we can replenish nature, nourish families, and help the most vulnerable coastal communities develop their blue economies sustainably. But only if we put an end to taxpayer funded bailouts for the business practices draining our oceans of life.