U.S.: fisheries subsidies and advice to President Obama on Fisheries Policy

An American NGO, the Environmental Defense Fund, has posted on its website a report titled "Oceans of Abundance". To this report have contributed a number of prominent U.S. policy makers and fisheries experts.

The NGO considers that the President elect Obama and the U.S. Congress "have a unique opportunity to restore America's abundant oceans, which offer a sustainable source of food, jobs and diverse wildlife."

At the core of the proposed actions to restore America's abundant oceans one finds the need for the implementation of what the authors of the report have called "catch shares", i.e. a share "based on a percentage of total allowable catch or area, can be held byindividuals, cooperatives, or communities." (page 6 of the aformentioned report).

What I missed in the report is a recommendation to the new Administration along the lines of the current U.S. position (as set-out by the Bush Administration at the WTO) for a broad based ban of subsidies to the fishing industry. Therefore a logic recommendation to Mr Obama would have been to legislate in the U.S. for the widest possible ban on fisheries subsidies.

In actual fact the only reference I found to fisheries subsidies was the following:

"The Obama Administration can help provide American leadership, expertise, and resources to solve this global problem. By helping other nations to transition to catch shares, including their use in conjunction with marine protected areas, we can increase food security, alleviate poverty, reduce fishing subsidies that distort markets, and sustain a supply of healthy seafood to the United States and the globe. The fisheries of many countries are poised for this change. "

Here is the link to the NGO wesite where the report can be found:


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