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NZ pushes for fish subsidy ban

NZ pushes for fish subsidy ban

New Zealand is serious about using the WTO subsidy negotiations to help reform global fisheries, Trade Negotiations Minister Jim Sutton said today.

Early this morning (NZ time), New Zealand introduced a proposal for a broadly-based ban on fisheries subsidies at the World Trade Organisation in Geneva.

Mr Sutton said there was an air of crisis over much of the global fishing industry.

"Key stocks are being run down, some to the point of collapse. Large parts of the industry are suffering. This is having acute social as well as commercial impacts".

Mr Sutton said subsidies were a key part of the problem.

"In New Zealand we have been active for many years on fisheries management and governance at all levels, including multilateral. Our own management regime is regarded as a model for the sector.

"But a lasting solution requires reform of the economics of the fisheries sector. An industry for which government supports often represent a quarter of revenues or costs is clearly not sustainable".

New Zealand's paper being introduced on Wednesday in the WTO Negotiating Group on Rules calls for a broad prohibition on commercial subsidies. New Zealand is arguing that a broad ban, along with a list of defined exceptions and transitional arrangements, will be more effective than a bottom-up negotiation on a list of prohibited subsidies.

"If we are serious about addressing the problem of over-exploitation and serious about letting developing country fishers operate on a level playing field we need genuinely effective WTO rules in this sector" Mr Sutton said.

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