unctad.org | UNCTAD-FAO-UNEP Joint Statement on Fisheries Subsidies
UNCTAD-FAO-UNEP Joint Statement on Fisheries Subsidies
20 July 2016
Room Tsavo 3, Kenyatta International Convention Centre
Nairobi, Kenya

Key Issues

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​At the UNCTAD 14 Conference, UNCTAD, FAO and UNEP will make an international call to member States and the international community to move forward and deliver on trade-related targets under Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14. This goal encompasses a specific target (SDG 14.6) to prohibit by 2020 those fisheries subsidies that lead to overcapacity and overfishing, to eliminate subsidies that contribute to illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing and to refrain from adopting such subsidies.

According to recent FAO data, the share of fish stocks within biologically sustainable levels continues to exhibit a downward trend, declining from 90 percent in 1974 to 68.6 percent in 2013. Key factors in this decline include the negative economic incentives that contribute to overfishing and overcapacity, such as subsidies and IUU fishing, among others. This does not mean that there are not positive subsidies. On the contrary, subsidies seeking sustainable management of stocks, local development and livelihoods need to be maintained and enhanced.

Fisheries subsidies have been roughly estimated to be as high as $35 billion worldwide, of which about $20 billion have been categorized as capacity-enhancing subsidies that directly contribute to overfishing. These subsidies expand the harvesting capacities of fleets over an already depleted resource, leading to increased and faster levels of overfishing.

The cost of inaction regarding fish subsidies and IUU is particularly high, since many species are disappearing, the value of the catch and sizes of the fish is diminishing and stocks are getting depleted beyond recovery.

The joint statement by UNCTAD, FAO and UNEP will call on Member States to address certain subsidies that contribute to overcapacity, overfishing and IUU fishing. 

The UNCTAD-FAO-UNEP statement is fully supported by several Member States such as the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group (ACP), Argentina, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Iceland, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Panama, Peru and Uruguay, whom are seeking to reinforce it and advance in the implementation of trade-related aspects of SDG 14. It also enjoyed the support of relevant international governmental organizations such as the Commonwealth Secretariat, Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), and the Pacific Island Forum Secretariat as well as active civil society organizations such as WWF, IOI, Oceana, Sea Around Us, CUTS International, IISD and the Fisheries Economics Research & Changing Ocean Research Units, University of British Colombia.


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Co-organized with:FAO, UNEP
Mr. David Vivas Eugui
Legal Officer
Trade, Environment, Climate Change and Sustainable Development Branch
Marcio Castro de Souza,
Senior Fishery Industry Officer, FAO Marcio.CastroDeSouza@fao.org 

Michael Logan,
Head of News and Media (acting), UNEP  michael.logan@unep.org
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