Majority support ban on fishing of endangered species

Majority support ban on fishing of endangered species

A woman sorts fish during the drying process at Muara Angke district in Jakarta, Indonesia January 6, 2020. (REUTERS/Ajeng Dinar Ulfiana Photo)

A large majority of seafood consumers across the world, including in India, support a ban on fishing of endangered species altogether. A majority is also in support of banning government subsidies to fisheries contributing to overfishing and illegal fishing, a global survey has found.

The survey, commissioned by the World Economic Forum (WEF) and conducted by Ipsos Group, showed that three out of four adults who regularly buy seafood support a ban on fishing of endangered species (77 per cent).

The support for such a ban was found to be the highest in Columbia (91 per cent) and lowest in Japan (47 per cent), while 66 per cent in India supported it, as per the survey.

Globally, 73 per cent favoured stopping government fisheries subsidies that lead to overfishing and illegal fishing -- the highest being 87 per cent in Peru and the lowest in Japan at 48 per cent. In India, 66 per cent supported a ban on such subsidies.

Also, 77 per cent globally supported banning restaurants and stores from selling endangered species of fish, while this percentage was also 66 per cent in India.

The survey, based on responses from nearly 20,000 adults in 28 countries, found that seven in ten adults globally buy fish at least once a month, while at least one in four consumers in some countries buy fish several times a week.

It found India is the country with the highest proportion of consumers who never buy fish (32 per cent).

Geneva-based WEF, which describes itself as an international organisation for public-private cooperation, said the poll has shown an overwhelming public support for ban on fishing for endangered species at a time when the World Trade Organization (WTO) members are facing pressure to end fisheries subsidies that deplete fish stocks and threaten food security for millions of people.

It said over USD 2.5 million per hour -– USD 22.2 billion a year -– of public money was spent on harmful fisheries subsidies last year.

Negotiations at the WTO are at a critical stage for a deal for ending harmful fisheries subsidies by mid-2020, which is also one of the targets of the Sustainable Development Goals agreed by all UN member states.

According to the World Bank, improvement in global fisheries management can also bring economic gains estimated at USD 83 billion.

In terms of fishing subsidies given in 2018, China topped the charts, followed by the EU, US, South Korea, Japan and Russia.

Over 59 million people work in fisheries and aquaculture and hundreds of millions more rely on seafood as their primary source of protein. These livelihoods and people's food security are at risk of declining fish stocks.

"The results of this poll show overwhelming support among global citizens for an end to overfishing and policies that threaten the health of the ocean. Billions of dollars' worth of seafood is illegally taken from the ocean every year -– stolen from communities, countries and scientific management," said Ambassador Peter Thomson, UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy for the Ocean and Co-Chair of Friends of Ocean Action (FCA).

The FCA is a group of more than 50 global leaders, convened by the WEF and the World Resources Institute.

Thomson said consumers should not and do not wish to be receivers of stolen goods.

"More than USD 20 billion of public funds are spent every year on harmful fisheries subsidies, over 80 per cent of which go to industrial fleets. These fleets are out there chasing diminishing stocks of fish and are in some cases engaged in illegal fishing. These funds would be far more usefully spent on climate-proofing coastal communities," he added.

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