Worldwide, more than 3 billion people depend on marine and coastal resources for their livelihoods. Yet globally, the proportion of overfished, depleted, or recovering fish stocks has increased from just above 50 per cent in the mid-1970s to almost 90 per cent in 2013. This has disastrous impacts on our marine ecosystems and biodiversity, imperils livelihoods and undermines economic prosperity.
Some forms of regulatory measures contribute significantly to this problem providing incentives which may encourage. Regulating harmful fisheries subsidies can help reduce economically damaging and unfair fisheries practices, while helping to restore productive fisheries resources, healthy marine ecosystems and biodiversity
The Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14 of the 2030 Agenda commits UN Member States “to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development”. This includes fighting against harmful fishery practices by 2020.
UN Environment, the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) are working together in order to bring these issues to the fore. At this year’s World Trade Organisation (WTO) Ministerial Conference, they are jointly organizing a high level session on fisheries entitled “Fish Trade, Fisheries Subsidies and SDG 14” , in partnership with the Commonwealth. The session aims to improve WTO negotiators’ understanding on recent trends in fish trade, the importance of existing UN Regulation (ILOS), and discuss up to date fish-related measures in developing countries.
In particular, the session will address the significance of fish and fish products to international trade, food security, nutrition and poverty reduction and development, the regulatory framework and relevant international instruments applicable to fisheries, and the trade barriers in fish trade and how they affect market access.
There is an urgent need for governments to come together to protect livelihoods and marine ecosystems. It is expected that putting fisheries in focus during the WTO Ministerial will provide deeper understanding of the trade-related aspects of the 14th Sustainable Development Goal, thereby providing a framework under which consensus may be reached with respect to disciplining fish subsidies.