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New Zealand calls for action on fisheries subsidies

Hon Tim Groser

Minister of Trade

4 December 2013

Embargoed until 7pm NZT

Media Statement       

New Zealand calls for action on fisheries subsidies

Trade Minister Tim Groser has led a call at the WTO’s 9th Ministerial Conference in Bali for urgent action to protect global fish stocks. New Zealand has been coordinating a group of countries that includes Argentina, Australia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Iceland, Norway, Pakistan, Peru and the United States.

The purpose of the meeting, which included a wider range of Government representatives, international media and international environmental NGOs, was to issue a joint statement drawing political attention to how subsidies contribute to the destruction of wild fisheries and to reiterate the group's commitment to negotiate ambitious and effective disciplines on fisheries subsidies.

In presenting the statement today on behalf of the group, Mr Groser emphasized that that over 85% of the world’s fish stocks were fully exploited, over exploited, depleted or in recovery.

“The depletion of the world’s fish stocks is the clearest example today of what is called ‘the tragedy of the global commons’. Obviously, no country individually seeks the destruction of the wild fisheries of the world, but this is exactly the danger facing certain critical fish stocks in parts of the world unless there is more effective international cooperation to deal with the problem.

“We need action on a variety of fronts, but reduction of harmful subsidies which contribute to over-fishing is a central part of any solution,” Mr Groser said.

“This is a trade issue – fish products are one of the most highly traded commodities in world trade, and subsidies contribute to distorting this trade – but it is about far more than just trade.  This is a pressing issue for the entire international community due to its environmental, economic and development consequences.”

“As  a development issue, it is of particular importance to developing countries in the Pacific – the source of about half the global wild catch. Fish is part of these countries’ food security. Beyond that, it is also one of their great economic assets, offering Pacific countries significant economic development opportunities.”

The scale of subsidization is huge - around US $25-30 billion per annum.

“The countries which have signed this statement represent a diverse group of developing and developed countries. We have come together to reaffirm the pledge we made within the UN Rio+20 conference in 2012 to not introduce or increase harmful fisheries subsidies, and we will work within the WTO and other fora to improve fisheries subsidies reform and transparency.”

ENDS

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