UN expert calls for a halt to “ocean grabbing”

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Olivier De Schutter, warned today of the threat of ‘ocean grabbing’ to food security, and urged world governments to create conditions to promote small-scale fishing.

Ocean-grabbing – in the shape of shady access agreements that harm small-scale fishers, unreported catch, incursions into protected waters, and the diversion of resources away from local populations – can be as serious a threat as land-grabbing,” Olivier De Schutter said as he today unveiled a new report on fisheries and the right to food.

Industrial overfishing has had devastating impacts on coastal communities, small-scale fishers, the marine environment, and the right to food of millions, according to the report, which will be presented to the UN General Assembly.

The special rapporteur called on governments to rethink the models of fisheries that they support, highlighting that small-scale fishers actually catch more fish per gallon of fuel than industrial fleets, and discard fewer fish.

“Industrial fishing in far-flung waters may seem like the economic option, but only because fleets are able to pocket major subsidies while externalizing the costs of over-fishing and resource degradation. Future generations will pay the price when the oceans run dry,” Mr. De Schutter said.

The key challenge, Mr. De Schutter indicated, is to ensure coexistence between industrial fishing and the rights of small-scale fishers and coastal communities.

The EU industrial fishing fleet is active all over the globe, both within the scope of the EU:s fisheries agreements with other nations and within the framework of private agreements.

The European Parliament is due to vote on its position on the EU’s international (external) fisheries policy within the next few weeks.

Documents & other sources
> Read the report
> Read the executive summary
> Reuters news story about the report
> UN press release

Axel Naver

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