7 Mar 2019

UN Special Envoy for the Ocean calls for halt to fishing subsidies

4:12 pm on 7 March 2019

The UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy for the Ocean has called for immediate political action to end harmful fisheries subsidies.

 Tuna on the deck of a Pacific fishing vessel.

Tuna on the deck of a Pacific fishing vessel. Photo: RNZI/Giff Johnson

UN research shows the subsidies contribute to practices which most harm small-scale fishers and coastal communities like those in the Pacific Islands.

Peter Thomson's call followed a World Trade Organisation progress report on securing a deal to halt harmful subsidies by the end of this year.

The report said members were on track to deliver within the 2019 deadline.

The WTO Director-General Roberto Azevêdo said subsidies contributed to overfishing, and illegal and unregulated fishing. He called it: "one of the important issues of our time".

Around 85 percent of US$20 billion in annual subsidies are estimated to go to large-scale industrial fleets which leads to global over-capacity.

Mr Thomson said environmental protection and sustainable development could be supported with the billions of dollars saved from ending harmful subsidies.

He is calling for immediate decisive political action.