Fisheries Subsidies at Stake: US Proposes Cuts

During recent World Trade Organization negotiations in Geneva, Switzerland, the United States submitted a proposal highlighting the need to cut worldwide destructive fisheries subsidies in order to stop the collapse of global fish species. The United States recommends that subsidies distorting trade and endangering marine life be prohibited by the body. Though not welcomed by all nations, the proposal did receive a strong backing, and it will be used as a framework in negotiations.

Just days later in the US Congress, a bipartisan group of 13 Senators introduced a resolution calling for an international ban on fishing subsidies, following a similar resolution introduced in the House of Representatives in March. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), a co-sponsor of the Senate resolution, commented, "Fishing subsidies have led directly to illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing."

Global fisheries subsidies are estimated to total as much as $34 billion annually. At least $20 billion of these funds are harmful subsidies that facilitate overfishing, according to a study by the University of British Columbia. The largest subsidizers of fisheries are Japan, China and the European Union.