Fishing boat

Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced a bill earlier this month to Congress called the Fair Trade in Seafood Act that would help the U.S. reduce its subsidy contributions that support aggressive and destructive overfishing methods.

A growing problem for the world’s ocean ecosystems, overfishing is crippling fish and seafood populations and also destroying oceanic habitats on a massive scale. The U.S. reportedly contributes some $16 billion in subsidies annually to controversial fishing operations, making up more than 20 percent of the total value of the world’s catch, according to Oceana, the largest international advocacy group working solely to protect the world’s oceans.

“Oceana applauds Sen. Wyden for introducing this important legislation. This bill will send an important message to our trading partners around the world by showing that stopping overfishing subsidies is a U.S. trade priority,” said Corry Westbrook, Oceana federal policy director in a statement on the organization’s website.

Governments around the world continue to provide significant subsidies for their nation’s fishing fleets, encouraging fishing operations to work harder than ever by fishing longer and farther away than would be possible without the financial incentives. According to Oceana, reducing or eliminating government fishing subsidies is the single most effective action in protecting the world’s oceans from devastation.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that 85 percent of the world’s fisheries are either fully exploited, overexploited, depleted or working to recover from depleted states—the worst condition the ocean has ever been in since the FAO began keeping records.

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Image: mikebaird