Fisheries committee clocks 100

With ocean stocks depleting, sustainable fisheries is now high on political agendas in OECD countries. Governments grappling with reform may find it reassuring to know that one of the OECD’s oldest committees, the Committee for Fisheries, is still going strong after 46 years at the helm. Indeed, the committee just held its 100th session on 29-31 October 2007.

The first session was held on 16-17 October 1961 and was attended by 31 delegates from 18 countries, with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization as an observer. In a sign that some things never change, a major agenda item in the first meeting was the issue of subsidies and other financial support to OECD fishing industries. Nearly half a century later, fisheries subsidies are still hotly debated, though far more is now known about the impact of fisheries subsidies on the sustainability of fish stocks–effects that are far from being ideal. Sustainable fisheries management and the political economy of reform were still very much the order of the day at the 2007 jubilee forum. For James Leape, the directorgeneral of WWF, reform must also embrace issues like illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, and the reform of regional fisheries management. With an emphasis on the US fishing sector, Jon Sutinen, from the University of Rhode Island, left delegates in no doubt as to the highly political nature of reform, which must be taken on board in formulating policy recommendations. Meanwhile, Mogens Kjorup, who heads the National Fisheries Policies Office of the Danish Food, Agriculture and Fisheries Ministry, showed how reform could work, with a detailed account of recent changes to the Danish fishing sector, making it more economically responsive.

©OECD Observer No 264/265, December 2007-January 2008

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