Regulating Fisheries Subsidies

ditc-ted-01122016-reg-fish-image2a.jpgFisheries are a key source of protein and livelihoods for the millions in coastal communities, who are powerless by themselves to tackle the heavily subsidized industrial fishing boats and the overfishing that these involve.

Fishing subsidies are estimated to be as high as $35 billion worldwide, of which $20 billion directly contributes to overfishing. According to FAO data, the share of fish stocks within biologically sustainable levels continues to decline, falling from 90 percent under sustainable levels in 1974 to 69 percent in 2013.

These subsidies effectively mean that taxpayers are paying industrial boats to degrade the environment and to destroy the food security and livelihoods of vulnerable coastal communities. By fueling unfair competition between large fleets and individual artisanal fishermen, they are also fostering inequality.


Linked to this precipitous decline in fish stocks, global leaders agreed last September a new sustainable development goal (SDG) on fisheries, Goal 14, to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, sea, and marine resources. Target 14.6 addresses the harmful subsidies directly. It has re-energised efforts to reduce subsidies on fisheries.

In July 2016, UNCTAD, FAO and UNEP joined forces to propose a roadmap to ending subsidies – a statement which was supported by more than 90 member States, four international and regional organizations and more than 10 global NGOs.

This joint statement calls on Member States to address certain subsidies that contribute to overcapacity, overfishing and IUU fishing.

The roadmap for elimination of harmful fishing subsidies includes a four-point plan:

  1. Require countries to provide information on what subsidies they are providing.
  2. Prohibit those subsidies which contribute to overfishing and illegal fishing.
  3. Introduce new policies tools to deter the introduction of new harmful subsidies.
  4. Provide special and differential treatment to developing countries.

Members States that support the UNCTAD-FAO-UNEP Statementditc-ted-MAP-fish-1.png

The UNCTAD-FAO-UNEP statement is fully supported by several Member States such as the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group (ACP), Argentina, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Iceland, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Panama, Peru and Uruguay, whom are seeking to reinforce it and advance in the implementation of trade-related aspects of SDG 14. It also enjoyed the support of relevant international governmental organizations such as the Commonwealth Secretariat, Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), and the Pacific Island Forum Secretariat as well as active civil society organizations such as WWF, IOI, Oceana, Sea Around Us, CUTS International, IISD and the Fisheries Economics Research & Changing Ocean Research Units, University of British Colombia.

The UNCTAD-FAO-UNEP statement remains open for additional expressions of support.




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