Trade as such does not have negative consequences on the environment. In cases where fishery resources are not managed in a sustainable manner, the cause of the negative consequence lies in the lack of adequate management. It is of course true that fish caught will come to market and as such can enter international trade. However, a number of mechanisms are in place to hinder international trade in endangered species such as CITES.
Also the trade rules of WTO address this issue. Among the most important are umbrella clauses such as Article 20 of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade which allow countries to take actions to protect human, animal or plant life or health, and to conserve exhaustible natural resources. Beyond the broad principles, specific agreements on specific subjects also take environmental concerns into account. Subsidies are permitted for environmental protection. Environmental objectives are recognised specifically in the WTO agreements dealing with product standards, food safety and intellectual property protection.
In addition, the system and its rules can help countries allocate scarce resources more efficiently and less wastefully. For example, negotiations have led to reductions in industrial and agricultural subsidies, which in turn reduce wasteful over-production. In the case of fisheries, an important dispute brought to the WTO (an appeal in a case about shrimp imports and the protection of sea turtles) has reinforced these principles. WTO members can, should and do take measures to protect endangered species and the environment.