Saturday, October 10, 2015

A fish called development

In fact, whether the SDGs succeed will depend to a significant degree on how they influence other international negotiations, particularly the most complex and contentious ones. And an early test concerns a goal for which the Global Ocean Commission actively campaigned: to "conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas, and marine resources for sustainable development."

When political leaders meet at the 10th World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference in Nairobi in December, they will have an opportunity to move toward meeting one of that goal's most important targets: prohibition of subsidies that contribute to overfishing and illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing by no later than 2020.

This is not a new ambition; it has been on the World Trade Organization's (WTO) agenda for many years, and it has been included in other international sustainable development declarations. But, even today, countries spend $30 billion a year on fisheries subsidies, 60 percent of which directly encourages unsustainable, destructive, or even illegal practices. The resulting market distortion is a major factor behind the chronic mismanagement of the world's fisheries, which the World Bank calculates to have cost the global economy $83 billion in 2012.

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