Fuel Price Increase, Subsidies, Overcapacity, and Resource Sustainability

U. R. Sumaila, L. Teh, R. Watson, P. Tyedmers, D. Pauly, (2008). ICES Journal of Marine Science: Journal du Conseil 65, 832-840.

Global fisheries are currently overcapitalized, resulting in overfishing in many of the world’s fisheries. Given that fuel constitutes a significant component of fishing costs, we expect recent increases in fuel prices to reduce overcapacity and overfishing. However, government fuel subsidies to the fishing sector reduce, if not completely negate, this positive aspect of increasing fuel costs. Here, we explore the theoretical basis for the expectation that the increasing fuel prices faced by fishing enterprises will reduce fishing pressure. Next, we estimate the amount of fuel subsidies to the fishing sector by governments globally to be in the range of US$4.2–8.5 billion per year. Hence, depending on how much of this subsidy existed before the recent fuel price increases, fishing enterprises, as a group, can absorb as much as this amount of increase in their fuel budget before any conservation benefits occur as a result of fuel price increases.

10.1093/icesjms/fsn070, http://www.ecomarres.com/downloads/SumailaFuel.pdf