AMBASSADOR PORTMAN: Jim, thank you very much and to my
colleagues who are here, and to our guests, I want to thank Jim and WWF and also
thank UNEP for organizing this event.
Much more importantly, I want to thank them, as well as other
NGOs who are here today, for bringing this issue to the forefront. You all are
the ones that brought this issue up initially. It was kind of a sleeper -- an issue
that not many people focused on.
And now it's become an issue that really gives us another reason for us
to conclude this overall Doha agreement, because it is so promising and so
important in terms of reducing over-fishing.
And it's something -- I agree with Jim -- where we seem to be
having somewhat of a convergence, as compared to some other areas where we seem
not to able to break the deadlock.
So it's an honor to be here, to highlight the importance of these
negotiations, and to thank you all for all your hard work.
I want to note that -- although my colleague from Senegal's
not here -- if you look at this group of members and others who are involved in
"Friends of Fish," it includes a broad group of countries, developing and
developed countries, and it's a reflection I think of the broad support for
action to ensure the sustainability of the world's marine resources as part of
our Doha round negotiations.
This is truly a ground-breaking opportunity for Doha. For the first time, the WTO is
addressing a problem that has direct and immediate consequences, not only for
trade but also, again, for the marine environment and sustainable
The need for action is very clear. The figures show that 75%
of fish stocks are currently at risk, and there's no longer any doubt that the
high levels of subsidies worldwide are part of the problem.
The WTO, a body that has [inaudible] on subsidies, has an
historic opportunity here to play an important role to put the world's fisheries
back on track through strong and enforceable subsidy rules. I particularly like
to acknowledge the roles again that so many NGO's have played in bringing these
issues to the forefront. I appreciate your working tirelessly with our
negotiators to ensure an ambitious result.
I want the United States to continue to be a leader in
this. I want us to continue to be
heavily involved in the negotiation to work closely with our colleagues in
"Friends of Fish." I think it is
significant that we seem to be reaching, as said, some convergence on this, and
I think we need to seek rules that are simple, enforceable and promote much
greater transparency than is the case today.
At the same time, we do need to recognize that some programs
that serve important policy goals in improving fisheries, sustainability, are
goals, are policies that need to be complementary to what we do in the WTO.
The WTO needs to be careful not to exceed its mandate. Our competence in the WTO, again, is
more on the subsidy side. We must
work closely with other organizations that have expertise in fisheries
management, and that would of course include the FAO, as well as other
My sense is we've got that balance about right. I think we need to be careful not to
overreach in that area. We are committed to achieving real results in this issue
and in many other issues in this round.
I don't think we have the luxury of time in this case. We need to do our part now, to do
everything we can to resolve the world's global fisheries crisis, which will
benefit us in terms of trade, but also have a very direct benefit on the
So again Jim, thank you very much and congratulations to you
and UNEP on all your hard work. We look forward to continuing to work with