The Nature and Magnitude of Global Non-Fuel Fisheries Subsidies

A. Khan, U. R. Sumaila, R. Watson, G. Munro, D. Pauly, (2006). “The Nature and Magnitude of Global Non-Fuel Fisheries Subsidies,” Fisheries Centre Research Reports No. 14 (Fisheries Centre, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada

Fishery subsidies greatly impact the sustainability of fishery resources. Subsidies that reduce the cost of fisheries operations and those that enhance revenues make fishing enterprises more profitable than they would be otherwise. Such subsidies result in fishery resources being overexploited, as they contribute directly or indirectly to the build-up of excessive fishing capacity, thereby undermining the sustainability of marine living resources and the livelihoods that depend on them. In this contribution, fishery subsidies are identified and categorized, taking into onsideration the policy relevance of fishery subsidies worldwide, subsidy program descriptions, sources of funding, scope and coverage, annual total amounts, administering authority, and the recipients of the subsidy. Using this taxonomy, a database of subsidy programs reported in marine capture fisheries for 144 coastal countries was compiled spanning 1995 to 2005. From this, an annual estimate of subsidies paid to the fishing sector by governments globally is computed for 2000. This static estimate accounts explicitly for data gaps. Total global fishery subsidies were estimated at about US$26 billion for the eleven subsidy types identified in this study (excluding fuel subsidies). About 60% of this amount was provided by 38 developed countries and the remaining 40% by 103 developing countries. The proportion of estimated subsidies that contributed towards an increase in fishing capacity globally amounted to about US$15 billion, while subsidies that contributed to fisheries management and conservation programs were approximately US$7 billion. The remaining US$4 billion are defined as ugly subsidies, i.e., they may lead either to fisheries conservation or to overcapacity depending on the context. Japan and the EU were the highest subsidizers of their fisheries, with about US$4.2 billion and US$3.0 billion, respectively. The results from this study have policy implications for fisheries subsidy reforms at the on-going WTO negotiations on rules to eliminate subsidies that cause overcapacity, and in achieving sustainable fisheries management. In conclusion, three major areas are highlighted for future research, the impact of subsidies on: (i) resource exploitation, (ii) industrial profits, and (iii) food sufficiency and livelihoods.