US agrees to reduce harmful subsidies contributing to overfishing

US becomes first major fishing nation to endorse the reducing subsidies deal
Fishing trawler, photo: Canva

The United States (US) is the first major fishing nation to approve a deal aimed at reducing harmful subsidies contributing to overfishing, according to Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the director-general of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Last year, the WTO’s 164 members agreed to cut billions of dollars in damaging fish subsidies that are depleting marine life in the world’s oceans. In order to become effective, the deal requires the endorsement of two-thirds of the members. So far, only a few smaller countries have accepted it, with the United States accepting the agreement on Tuesday.

Okonjo-Iweala expressed hope that other nations would follow the US example and called for the deal’s completion by the following major conference of the trade watchdog, the 13th ministerial conference (MC13), which will take place in February 2024 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates,

US Trade Representative Katherine Tai stated that the country is proud to be among the first WTO members to accept the agreement, which is the first multilateral trade deal to have environmental sustainability at its core.

A 2019 study published in Marine Policy estimated global harmful fish subsidies at $35.4 billion, with the top five subsidizers being China, the EU, the United States, South Korea, and Japan.

Overfishing is the practice of catching fish at a rate that is faster than the fish can reproduce and replenish their population. This unsustainable method of fishing depletes fish stocks, leading to the decline or collapse of fish populations and negatively impacting the overall health of the aquatic ecosystem.

Overfishing is caused by various factors, including increased demand for seafood, advancements in fishing technology, poor fisheries management, and illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing practices.

Over time, overfishing can lead to the loss of biodiversity, disruption of food chains, and reduced food security for communities that depend on fishing for their livelihoods and nutrition.

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