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In advance of the UN Conference on Oceans, the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) highlighted the role of fisheries subsidies in overfishing.

Other activities in preparation for the Conference include a podcast on actions to save the ocean by Sylvia Earle, the founder of Mission Blue and the former chief scientist of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and continued commitments to the Registry of Voluntary Commitments.

2 May 2017: In advance of the UN Conference on Oceans, the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) highlighted the role of fisheries subsidies in overfishing. Other activities in preparation for the Conference include a podcast on actions to save the ocean by Sylvia Earle, the founder of Mission Blue and the former chief scientist of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and continued commitments to the Registry of Voluntary Commitments.

On fisheries subsidies, UNCTAD Legal Affairs Officer, David Vivas, explained, “of each $5 in fish products, $1 is subsidized,” resulting in an estimated US$35 billion on harmful fisheries and creating “incentives to deplete resources faster than if there weren’t the subsidies.” According to UNCTAD, addressing fisheries subsidies will require countries to provide information on what subsidies they provide and then prohibiting those subsidies that contribute to overfishing, among other actions. UNCTAD is working on a multilateral fisheries agreement that will be discussed at the UN Ocean Conference and is expected to be finalized at the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Ministerial Conference in December 2017. According to the UN, the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group, the European Union (EU) and Pakistan have expressed support for such an agreement.

On fisheries subsidies, UNCTAD Legal Affairs Officer, David Vivas, explained, “of each $5 in fish products, $1 is subsidized.”

Informal consultations on the Call for Action to be adopted at the UN Ocean Conference have discussed references to the WTO’s ongoing negotiations on harmful fishing subsidies. The EU and others prefer to call for the negotiations to conclude swiftly, while others warn against language that could prejudge the outcome of the WTO negotiations.

On actions to save the ocean, Sylvia Earle described the Ocean Conference as a “remarkable” event to celebrate the ocean and examine ocean challenges during a discussion on the UN News podcast series, ‘The Lid is On.’ Earle underscored the ocean’s role as “the biggest reservoir of carbon” and stressed “there’s plenty of reason to hope,” including a trend towards revising fisheries policies to “favor the fish, the blue carbon value of fish.”

Recent voluntary commitments include an announcement by the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the Directorate General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries of the European Commission (DG MARE) to accelerate marine spatial planning (MSP) processes through a ‘Joint Roadmap to Accelerate MSP processes worldwide.’ The roadmap identifies common priorities and defines a series of high level actions on transboundary MSP, blue economy, ecosystem-based MSP, capacity building, and building mutual understanding, with the aim of tripling the area of territorial waters benefiting from MSP by 2030. [UN Press Release on Subsidies] [UN Press Release on Earle Podcast] [UNESCO Press Release] [Joint Roadmap] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on Call for Action Revisions] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on Call for Action Negotiations] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on Other Conference Preparations]

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