Over 170 organizations urge world leaders to reach a WTO agreement to stop harmful fisheries subsidies as soon as possible.
On Monday morning, the General Council of the World Trade Organization (WTO) began a historic term with newly appointed Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala at the helm. To mark the occasion, the Stop Funding Overfishing campaign, supported by environmental non-governmental organizations (NGOs) worldwide, positioned an ice sculpture of a fish directly in front of the WTO’s headquarters, urging its members to deliver on their mandate by reaching an agreement as soon as possible to stop subsidies that contribute to the overexploitation of the ocean’s fish stocks.
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala met with the members of the Stop Funding Overfishing coalition this morning. The representatives of the group brought her attention to a policy statement signed by 175 organizations that reminds world leaders that they committed to reaching a deal on ending harmful fisheries subsidies by 2020, as set out in target 6 of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal for the ocean, SDG 14. The statement points out that the WTO failed to reach an agreement by the deadline and must conclude negotiations as soon as possible.
The installation—an ice sculpture saying “Stop the Fish Meltdown”—is intended to bring public attention to the urgency of this request. Over the course of the exhibition, the ice figure will slowly melt, symbolizing the diminishing fish populations in ocean ecosystems.
Okonjo-Iweala, the first woman and first African to head the trade organization, has said that she strongly supports concluding negotiations on fisheries subsidies this year. “For me this is one of the top priorities. Keep pushing. We’re in this together. We have to get it done.”