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NZ begins WTO bid to ban fishery subsidies

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 14/09/2016
<span style="font-size:13px;">NZ is joining 12 other countries, including the US, in negotiations with the World Trade Organisation to seek to end fishery subsidies they say are harmful.</span> © Getty NZ is joining 12 other countries, including the US, in negotiations with the World Trade Organisation to seek to end fishery subsidies they say are harmful.

New Zealand is joining the United States and 11 other countries in negotiating with the World Trade Organisation to ban harmful fishery subsidies, particularly those that contribute to overfishing and overcapacity in the sector or are linked to illegal fishing, they said on Wednesday.

The countries said in a joint statement issued on the eve of a major oceans conference in Washington that 31 per cent of the world's fisheries were operating at biologically unsustainable levels, with 58 per cent at maximum levels with no room to grow.

"Fisheries subsidies, estimated to be in the tens of billions of dollars annually, create significant distortions in global fish markets and are a major factor contributing to overfishing and overcapacity and the depletion of fisheries resources," the group said in the statement.

Besides NZ and the US, the fishing anti-subsidy coalition includes Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Norway, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Singapore, Switzerland and Uruguay.

The WTO negotiations also will aim to strengthen the reporting and transparency of fishery subsidies.

US trade representative Michael Froman said the coalition was trying to ensure the long-term sustainability of global fisheries, which support more than 50 million workers. Another 3 billion people, often in poor countries, rely on food from the ocean as a significant source of protein.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, which has not been approved by the US Congress and may not see a vote before President Barack Obama leaves office in January, includes a ban on harmful fishery subsidies among its 12 member countries.

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