WASHINGTON, May 4 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A bipartisan group of 13
United States Senators, led by Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), introduced a
resolution Thursday night calling for the United States to pursue an
international ban on government subsidies to the fishing sector that are
supporting the overfishing of the world's oceans. Earlier this week, the
United States Ambassador to the World Trade Organization (WTO), Peter
Allgeier, presented an ambitious U.S. proposal that would broadly prohibit
fisheries subsidies at WTO negotiations in Geneva including delegates
representing the WTO's 150-member countries.
Worldwide fisheries subsidies are estimated at $30 to $34 billion
annually -- levels equal to approximately 25 percent of world fishing
revenue. At least $20 billion are "harmful" subsidies that drive increased
and intensified fishing by providing support for boat construction and
modernization, fishing equipment and fuel and other operational costs. The
United States is involved in ongoing WTO negotiations as part of the Doha
trade "round" to strengthen the international rules on fisheries subsidies,
including through the prohibition of subsidies that contribute to
overcapacity and overfishing. This week is the first time that the United
States proposal, which was submitted in March, has been discussed in the
WTO fisheries subsidies negotiations.
"The WTO can produce the single greatest action to protect the world's
oceans by eliminating overfishing subsidies," said Courtney Sakai, campaign
director at Oceana. "The strong bipartisan showing by the United States
Senate to stop destructive fishing subsidies continues to demonstrate the
commitment of the Congress and the Bush Administration towards achieving an
ambitious outcome in the WTO negotiations."
Along with Senator Stevens, other co-sponsors of the resolution include
Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Sen. Maria
Cantwell (D-WA), Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME),
Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Sen. Trent Lott
(R-Miss.), Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK.), Sen.
Olympia J. Snowe (R-ME), and Sen. John Sununu (R-N.H.). The Senate
resolution follows a series of recent actions by the U.S. Congress to
address domestic and international overfishing. Last year, the U.S.
Congress enacted the requirement to end overfishing by 2011 in U.S.
fisheries in its reauthorization of the Magnuson- Stevens Fishery
Conservation and Management Act. In March, a resolution on fisheries
subsidies (H.Con.Res.94) was introduced in the U.S. House of
Representatives by Rep. Madeleine Bordallo (D-Guam), chairwoman of the
Natural Resources Subcommittee on Fisheries, Oceans and Wildlife.
"The world's fisheries are near total collapse, yet many governments
continue to sponsor overfishing with the billions of dollars in subsidies
they dole out to the fishing sector," continued Sakai. "To end overfishing,
follow the money that supports it and make the money stop."
The largest overall fishing subsidizers are Japan ($5.3 billion), the
European Union ($3.3 billion), and China ($3.1 billion). The United States
provides relatively few capacity-building subsidies to its domestic fishing
industry, and continued subsidization by other governments to their
commercial fleets put domestic fishermen at competitive disadvantage in
their ability to fish and to sell their products on the international
Fisheries subsidies also preserve uneconomic and inefficient practices.
A recent study found that high seas bottom trawling would not be profitable
without high levels of government subsidies. This fishing practice is
destructive enough that the United Nations has called for it to be severely
restricted - an action supported by President Bush, Senator Stevens and
other members of Congress. Fisheries subsidies have also been documented to
support illegal, unregulated, and unreported (IUU) fishing, sometimes
referred to as "pirate fishing."
For more information on fisheries subsidies, visit
Oceana campaigns to protect and restore the world's oceans. Our teams
of marine scientists, economists, lawyers and advocates win specific and
concrete policy changes to reduce pollution and to prevent the irreversible
collapse of fish populations, marine mammals and other sea life. Global in
scope and dedicated to conservation, Oceana has campaigners based in North
America (Washington, DC; Juneau, AK; Los Angeles, CA), Europe (Madrid,
Spain; Brussels, Belgium) and South America (Santiago, Chile). More than
300,000 members and e-activists in over 150 countries have already joined
Oceana. For more information, please visit http://www.Oceana.org .