Work with other nations to
protect and conserve shared living marine resources.
Increasing world population
and wealth have led to higher demand for edible fish and excess
capacity of fishing boats. The United Nations (UN) Food and Agriculture
Organization (FAO) forecasts that by 2010, worldwide demand for
seafood will top 110 million tons, but catches will fall short
by 40 million tons. Nearly 70% of the world's marine fish stocks
are overfished, fully exploited, or rebuilding only under protective
management regulation. Pressure to increase production already
has the industry fishing farther down the food chain, causing
potential imbalances in the ecosystem. The race for fish also
leads to high rates of bycatch of nontarget fish species and
vulnerable marine mammals, turtles, and seabirds alike and wasted
Though a growing number of
regional organizations are charged with managing specific fish
stocks, the future of the world's fishery resources is uncertain.
At the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, all nations joined
in the call for new international agreements and mechanisms to
achieve sustainable marine fisheries. The U.S., as one of the
world's leading fishing nations, plays a key role in expanding
international cooperation to manage and conserve global fishery
resources. For example, the U.S. has successfully used trade
measures or the threat of trade measures to convince exporting
nations to end wasteful and destructive fishing methods. Focused
effort can be especially effective because only ten countries,
including the U.S., account for 70% of total global production.
- The two key tools for international
fisheries management the 995 UN Straddling and Highly Migratory
Fish Stocks Agreement ( Straddling Stocks Agreement) and the
FAO Agreement on High-Seas Fishing Vessel Compliance (FAO Compliance
Agreement) have yet to enter into force. Also, the FAO Code of
Conduct for Responsible Fisheries (Code) is not yet widely implemented
by fishing nations.
- Nations continue to subsidize
their fishing industries, leading to over-capitalization of fishing
fleets and increasing pressure to maximize harvest.
- Conservation and management
schemes are undermined by illegal, unregulated, and unreported
fishing. A number of nations also offer flag of convenience registry
to fishing vessels with no accompanying oversight of their fishing
- Conservation and management
schemes have not always been successful in averting overfishing
or allowing for the rebuilding of depleted stocks.
- Parties to international agreements
and regional fishery management organizations often exceed agreed-upon
quotas or are out of compliance with those organizations conservation
and management regimes.
- Promote ratification by signatory
nations of the Straddling Stocks Agreement and the FAO Compliance
Agreement, and implementation of the FAO Code at all appropriate
- Develop proposals to implement
key provisions of the above agreements, such as a precautionary
approach and transparency (openness in the decision-making process),
through regional fishery organizations and arrangements.
- Increase bilateral pressure
to foster agreements to rebuild overfished species and to deter
illegal, unregulated, and unreported fishing. Participate actively
in FAO initiatives to develop an international plan of action
to address such fishing practices.
- Take a leading role in implementing
the new FAO action plan on fishing fleet overcapacity.
- Strongly encourage the members
of the World Trade Organization to eliminate subsidies that lead
to overcapacity as part of the new round of negotiations set
to begin in November 1999.
- Support and develop means
(including trade-based means) bilaterally and through regional
fisheries organizations, to ensure compliance with fishery management
initiatives. Identify and negotiate new regional, multilateral
agreements to eliminate destructive fishing practices.
- Work with other countries
to evaluate vulnerable marine species, and take an active role
in international decision-making on listing new marine species
under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species
of Wild Flora and Fauna.
For more information
The United States led negotiations
that recently established international treaties protecting endangered
sea turtles in the Western Hemisphere and dolphins in the Eastern
Pacific. These ground-breaking agreements establish international
standards for fishing practices that minimize bycatch and accidental