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NZ Pushes Ahead To Cut World Fishing Subsidies

12 November 2001 Media Statement

New Zealand Pushes Ahead To Cut World Fishing Subsidies

Eliminating fish subsidies would benefit nations that managed their fish stocks sustainably, consumers, and the environment, New Zealand Trade Negotiations Minister Jim Sutton said today.

New Zealand is convening the "Friends of Fish" committee at the World Trade Organisation ministerial meeting in Doha, Qatar.

Mr Sutton said the global fisheries trade was worth about US$50 billion a year. About 20 per cent of global fisheries income comes from subsidies and transfers.

"Those subsidies encourage over-fishing and exploitation of stocks. It is not sustainable and if the system is not changed, fishing will be ruined, and the fishermen along with it."

New Zealand is in the forefront of the effort to get nations to agree on a joint approach to get the World Trade Organisation to put an end to harmful subsidies in the fisheries sector.

"This group had its first major success when the call for negotiations on fishing subsidies was included in the final draft declaration text in Geneva last month. "Now the challenge is to ensure that the clause on fishing subsidies remains in the text if and when a final version is agreed on."

Mr Sutton said there was opposition to the current text from a few delegations - Japan, Korea, Canada, and the European Union.

"But interest in maintaining the clauses is broadly based, and many developing nations are particularly keen to see an end to fishing subsidies which devastate the markets on which their own fishing interests depend."

References to eliminating fishing subsidies was in the text at the Seattle WTO meeting two years ago when a bid to launch a new round of world trade negotiations failed.

Ending fisheries subsidies was also a critical environmental issue, he said.
"The scale of fishing industry subsidies is one of the reasons global fish stocks are in such a perilous state. Getting rid of those subsidies would be a win-win-win situation: a win for nations who manage their fish stocks sustainably because the price for fish would not be artificially driven down by subsidies; a win for consumers who will be able to continue to buy the fish they want; and a win for the environment."

Mr Sutton said there had been considerable helpful work carried out by non-government organisations - particularly the World Wildlife Fund - and New Zealand officials had worked closely with them.

Today, he met with Aimee Gonzales, a World Wildlife Fund fisheries expert, to thank her for her organisation's work and to discuss ways the Friends of Fish and the WWF could achieve their goals.


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