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New Zealand welcomes Europe's fisheries reform

New Zealand welcomes Europe's fisheries reform

The European Union's agreement on reform of the Common Fisheries Policy was welcome news, Trade Negotiations Minister Jim Sutton said today.

Earlier this week, European Union ministers agreed to a new process to manage fish stocks and to phase out state aid for replacing fishing boats.

Mr Sutton said the decisions were a step in the right direction.

"New Zealand has a leadership role in an informal grouping of World Trade Organisation nations called the "Friends of Fish". This group is seeking improvements to WTO rules to deal with the negative effects of fish subsidies on trade, the environment, and sustainable development.

Mr Sutton said that globally, the fisheries industry was hooked on subsidies.

"This distorts trade, threatens fish stocks, and impedes the development of poorer nations. New Zealand has a big stake in this issue. Foreign subsidies adversely affect the competitiveness of our fishing industry and increase threats to fisheries stocks in the Southern Oceans, in which we have significant environmental and economic interests."

Worldwide fish subsidies are estimated at US$20 billion a year, or 20% of global fisheries revenues. About 70% of the world's stocks are already fully exploited, over-exploited, or depleted. Alongside other "Friends", which include a wide range of developed and developing countries, New Zealand has been seeking improved WTO disciplines on fisheries subsidies.

Mr Sutton said New Zealand had a world-class fisheries management programme which was sustainable, both economically and environmentally.

"It's a system we can recommend to the world."

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