The World Trade Organization and Global Fisheries Sustainability

U. R. Sumaila, A. Khan, R. Watson, G. Munro, D. Zeller, N. Baron, D. Pauly, (2007). Fisheries Research 88, 1-4.

The World Trade Organization (WTO) is in a unique position to move global fisheries towards sustainability. The current Doha Trade Round of Negotiations offers an important opportunity to improve the future prospects of fish as a main source of animal protein for one fifth of the world’s population. Countries are wrestling with the issue of government fisheries subsidies, which keep too many commercial fishing boats in operation and drive the unsustainable exploitation of the world’s depleted fish populations. Removal of subsidies is challenging as it cannot be resolved without international cooperation because unilateral action has trade implications, and may not work because fish and fishing vessels do not respect national exclusive economic zones. This is why the WTO, which has in place mechanisms to enforce its agreements, is the only institution that can tackle the global problem of overfishing subsidies. We identify the opportunities and challenges that WTO members face, and provide suggestions on how to address these challenges.