United States Trade Representative Susan C. Schwab met today with Andrew
Sharpless, Chief Executive Officer of Oceana, to discuss the World Trade
Organization (WTO) negotiations on fisheries subsidies. Oceana, along with other
groups, such as the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), has strongly supported the United
States’ efforts to strengthen the WTO rules on fisheries subsidies that promote
overcapacity and overfishing.
"An ambitious outcome in the WTO that eliminates harmful fisheries subsidies
is critical, both to saving the oceans and to demonstrating that the WTO can
promote policies that benefit both trade and the environment," said Ambassador
Schwab. "I welcome the support of Oceana and other environmental groups for
stronger rules on harmful fisheries subsidies. A strong agreement on fisheries
subsidies would be a very significant accomplishment for the Doha Development
"In addition to fisheries subsidies, we are also working hard on other key
trade and environment issues. In particular, we are pushing for increased market
access for environmental goods and services. This offers real promise for
delivering benefits for environmental protection abroad by reducing the costs of
preventing pollution and cleaning up the environment."
While the focus of the Doha Development Agenda (DDA) has been on market
access issues, other negotiating areas, such as fisheries subsidies, also offer
opportunities for significant results that can benefit a variety of
stakeholders. The world’s fishing fleets are operating at substantially higher
capacity than can sustain the long-term health of global fisheries stocks.
According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, nearly 75% of
global fisheries stocks are either overexploited, fully exploited, depleted or
recovering from depletion. Global subsidy levels are estimated at between $10-15
billion annually –
approximately 20-25% of the $56 billion commercial trade in fish.
The United States and like-minded WTO Members have been in the forefront of
efforts to craft stronger rules to address the role of subsidies in contributing
to this crisis in the world’s fisheries. At the December 2005 WTO Ministerial
Conference in Hong Kong, Ministers acknowledged broad agreement among Members
that stronger fisheries subsidies rules should include a prohibition on those
subsidies that contribute to overcapacity and overfishing.
The DDA includes specific negotiating mandates for negotiations both on
fisheries subsidies and market access for environmental goods and services. For
more information on the negotiations and U.S. proposals, please see our website,