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New Zealand Takes Action to Ban Global Fish Subsidies

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GENEVA, Switzerland -- New Zealand has unveiled proposed new international trade rules to stop governments paying massive subsidies to fishermen to exploit the world’s already over fished oceans.

“The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation has stated that 75 per cent of world fisheries are overexploited or depleted. Yet each year countries spend $15-20 billion in subsidising the fishing industry in the developed world to keep fishing at unsustainable levels,” Trade Minister Phil Goff said.

“The release of our plan at the World Trade Organisation in Geneva promotes New Zealand’s continuing campaign against unfair trade and promotes sustainability of world fisheries resources.

“Urgent action is required to address a global crisis in fisheries and the World Trade Organisation can play a significant part in the solution.

“To stop overfishing we need countries to stop paying subsidies that encourage more people to fish even when it is not economic. New Zealand has proposed prohibiting all forms of subsidies to the fisheries industry, with some exceptions for subsidies that promote good fisheries management, and additional flexibility for less developed countries such as those in the Pacific,” Mr Goff said

New Zealand’s proposal is cast in a way which seeks to be acceptable to WTO members seriously concerned about the state of world fisheries.

“The proposal has attracted considerable interest and support from a broad range of WTO Members but will be resisted by the heaviest subsidisers.

“Subsidies to fishermen provided by a small group of large economies are estimated to be equivalent to a fifth of the industry’s total global earnings.

“The WTO and trade ministers around the world have to front up to the fish subsidy issue and to confront vested interests.

“The success of the New Zealand proposal will help developed countries struggling to compete with the heavily subsidised fishing industry in larger and wealthier countries.

“It will remove the distortions this creates in trade in fish. And most importantly it will protect the environment by stopping unsustainable levels of exploitation of fishing resources.

“It is a win for trade, for development and for the environment,” Mr Goff said.

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