WTO Poised to Deliver Major Environmental Victory in Doha Trade Round

    First Draft Agreement Produced on Fisheries Subsidies; Sets Stage for
"Real" Negotiations

    GENEVA, November 30 /CNW/ - The World Trade Organization (WTO) today took
an important step towards protecting the world's oceans in the issuance of
"Chairman's text" on fisheries subsidies.

    "A strong fisheries subsidies agreement would be a hands-down win for the
environment. The WTO faces challenges in tackling the issues of subsidies and
overfishing, but the potential benefits are enormous," said Courtney Sakai,
campaign director at Oceana. "If the Doha round fails, the oceans will be the
big losers."

    Fisheries subsidies are part of the Negotiating Group on Rules. The
fisheries subsidies language was released by negotiation chairman Guillermo
Valles of Uruguay as part of a larger text for the Rules Group, which also
includes dumping, general subsidies and regional trade agreements. The
Chairman's text forms the basis and framework for legal and technical
negotiations and is scheduled to be discussed for the first time in Geneva on
December 12-14.

    "Now the real negotiations begin. The question is, will the WTO seize or
squander its opportunity to stop global overfishing," continued Sakai.
"Reducing overfishing subsidies now is essential for abundant fisheries in the

    Eliminating subsidies that enhance fishing capacity is the greatest
single action that can be taken to protect the world's oceans. The WTO is the
appropriate and best entity to address the fisheries subsidies problem on a
global scale. The fisheries subsidies negotiations are historic in that they
represent the first time that conservation concerns - overfishing and
declining fishery resources - have led to the launch of a specific trade

    Subsidies promote overfishing, pushing fleets to fish longer, harder and
farther away than otherwise would be possible. These subsidies are estimated
to be at least $20 billion annually, an amount equivalent to approximately 25
percent of the value of the world catch. According to the UN Food and
Agriculture Organization, 75 percent of the world's fisheries are now
overexploited, fully exploited, significantly depleted or recovering from

    For more information, please also visit www.cutthebait.org.

    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 further information:

For further information: Oceana Courtney Sakai, 079 355 24 00 or +1
202-486-6406 csakai@oceana.org or Dustin Cranor, +1 202-341-2267
dcranor@oceana.org or Dan Doherty, +1 703-624-1094

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