UN drive to protect life of the oceans must also benefit poor fishing communities

Press release, 5 June 2017
As the UN Conference to Support the Implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14 in New York starts, IIED director Andrew Norton said:

"It is vital that this meeting is a game changer – both for the health of the oceans and for the people who depend on them.

"Governments need to commit to effective action that makes sure the world's poor will not be left to shoulder the burden of protecting the world's oceans and seas, but will actually benefit from conservation efforts. 

"It is critical that governments urgently agree clear steps that will make the elimination of all harmful subsidies possible. Subsidies for fishing equipment and fuel should prioritise small-scale fishers rather than commercial fishing vessels. By replacing subsidies that are destructive to sea life with such measures as support for monitoring and surveillance of marine protected areas, rewarding fishers for avoiding damaging fishing practices, and enhancing access to markets and services including by providing support for storage facilities, poor coastal communities and fishers will be able to benefit from ocean-friendly investment.

"The needs of the poor must be heard at every stage of this process to make sure they are not left behind in the crucial drive to protect the life of the oceans."

IIED is holding a discussion side event on 'Towards a sustainable blue future: fiscal incentives to achieve SDG 14' on Monday, 5 June 2017 at UN Headquarters, New York, Conference Room 12 from 1.15-2.30pm.

Media enquiries

For more information please contact Beth Herzfeld, IIED senior media officer, on +44 (0)7557 658 482 or email beth.herzfeld@iied.org

Notes to editors

  • Not all subsidies are harmful – particularly those provided by low-income countries to alleviate poverty and enhance access to services, which can be instrumental in transforming the livelihoods of millions of poor coastal communities. Governments and public bodies make direct or indirect financial contributions – subsidies – which provide a private benefit. Global fisheries subsidies are estimated at billions of dollars a year, with fishing equipment and fuel subsidies accounting for significant amount of that sum. Subsidies are often provided when costs exceed revenue, making too many fishing activities artificially viable financially, leading to overfishing. Fish stock depletion globally has been driven in part by high levels of fishing subsidies; a retreat from this approach would make a significant difference to the conservation and sustainable use of fish stocks. 
  • For further information, see 'A sustainable future for fisheries: how fiscal policy can be used to achieve SDG 14' and 'Fiscal reforms for sustainable marine fisheries governance: delivering the SDGs and ensuring no one is left behind'
  • IIED is a policy and action research organisation. It promotes sustainable development to improve livelihoods and protect the environments on which these livelihoods are built. IIED specialises in linking local priorities to global challenges. Based in London, UK works in Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and the Pacific, with some of the world’s most vulnerable people to strengthen their voice in the decision-making arenas that affect them – from village councils to international conventions