WTO plans threaten sea life: Greenpeace

Nairobi, Jan 19 | Updated: Jan 20 2007, 05:37am hrs
Pirates and licenced trawlers are ravaging the world's oceans, while proposals for trade ministers meeting in Switzerland next week could prove the final blow to sea life, Greenpeace said on Friday.

Three-quarters of global fish stocks are now classed by the United Nations as fully or over-exploited, and the conservation group said World Trade Organisation plans to slash or cancel fish and fish product tariffs would be a disaster. "Under trade liberalisation, only a few countries will benefit, and then only in the short term," Daniel Mittler, a political adviser on trade for Greenpeace, told reporters.

"The reality is, all other countries will lose. There must be regulated trade and proper management...The last thing the world needs is a relaunch of the Doha global trade round." The world's seas are already ravaged, with waters off developing nations most at risk from pirate trawlers flying cheaply purchased flags of convenience, Greenpeace said.

At any one time, some 600 foreign vessels are fishing off the Kenyan coast, said Athman Seif of the Kenya Marine Forum, particularly targeting lucrative hauls of yellow fin tuna. Some of the boats are licenced, many are not, he said.

"They are sophisticated and unscrupulous, and something must be done," he said at the launch of the report in Nairobi.