WWF supports WTO talks on fishing subsidies

Green group claims EU spends euros 1.4bn per year, much of it environmentally damaging

World governments should discuss how to "reduce and reform" fishing subsidies in the forthcoming millennium round of world trade talks, the European office of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) argued today. The group released a new analysis of EU fishing subsidies that puts at euros 1.4bn the total spent annually by the EU and its member states in supporting the industry. Put in other terms, this means euros 200 per tonne of fish produced, euros 14,000 per fishing vessel or over euros 5,400 per fisherman, the WWF said. Several of the world's major fishing nations have already called for fisheries subsidy cuts to be agreed at the next round of World Trade Organisation (WTO) negotiations (ENDS Daily 2 August). The EU, which is already under political pressure over its agricultural subsidies, the next main WTO agenda item, is believed to be cool towards the idea. David Schorr of the WWF stressed that the group was not arguing for EU fishing subsidies to be eliminated, nor did it want to destroy the Union's fishing industry. The problem, he told ENDS Daily today, was that current subsidies were both "economically irrational" and environmentally harmful because they were leading to a "rapid depletion of the resource" underpinning the industry.

Follow Up:
WWF European Policy Office, tel: +32 2 743 8806. References: "Subsidies to the European Union Fisheries Sector," commissioned by WWF from the Institute for European Environmental Policy, London.

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