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Trade and Environment Review 2016

Fish Trade

image of Trade and Environment Review 2016

The Trade and Environment Review 2016 addresses the matter of harmful incentives, primarily in terms of Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing and fisheries subsidies, as an important part of the toolkit to restore fish populations, foster sustainable fisheries and deliver substantial economic and social gains. The Review proposes developing an overarching traceability system of traded fish from vessel to final consumer, as key to arresting and eliminating IUU fishing, but notes the requirement for major upgrading of institutional and technical implementation capacities, which may be difficult for some countries with fewer financial resources. On subsidies, there should be full transparency and disclosure of all fisheries subsidies, which should be classified in order to identify and distinguish those that are harmful or not. Efforts to discipline capacity-enhancing subsidies should be exerted at the national, regional and global levels of governance and, given previous intransience on this issue, a group of countries in partnership with organizations such as the WTO, UNCTAD and the FAO could stimulate collective actions with bottom-up voluntary commitments to subsidy reform.

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International and regional frameworks for sustainable fisheries

In September 2015, the international community agreed on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development including the adoption of 17 Sustainable Development Goals. These goals, established for the next 15 years, are rightly ambitious with full support of the Commonwealth. However, this should not obscure the scale of the challenges ahead. Urgent actions are required to advance this development agenda. Sustainable Development Goal 14 urges the international community to “conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas, and marine resources”. This points to a pressing need for the international community to address the issue of the conservation and the rebuilding of global fish stocks that have been so quickly depleted as a result of the industrialisation of the fisheries sector to date. This article reflects on the capacity of bilateral, regional and multilateral trade policy to manage sustainable fisheries effectively. Upon reflection what becomes apparent is the requirement for better synergies and coherence amongst these levels of trade policy making in order to promote global sustainable fisheries management more effectively.

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