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The cost of harmful fishing subsidies

Subsidies that promote overfishing place fish stocks at risk and threaten the livelihoods and food security of millions of people. Already, almost two thirds of the world’s commercial fish stocks are either already fished at maximum levels or are overfished. This working paper explores the effects of harmful fishing subsidies. What are the risks they pose to marine resources? How can we estimate the level of harmful subsidies and identify those that need addressing as a priority? And how can we measure and monitor progress towards their removal? Here, the authors suggest that a starting point should be for policymakers to agree which subsidies are harmful, including those related to aquaculture and processing, which may promote harm less directly. This should be combined with a commitment to report on these using simple indicators to establish a baseline of their value. A key challenge to quantifying subsidies is to increase transparency – knowing what public funds are being given for, and to whom – thereby increasing accountability associated with subsidies programmes.

Publication information

  • IIED code: 16654IIED
  • Published: Mar 2019 - IIED
  • Theme: Fisheries
  • ISBN: 978-1-78431-676-1
  • Language: English

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Marine and coastal resources support the livelihoods of millions of poor people across the world. They also provide a range of critical ecosystem services to the rest of the economy. The connection between high seas and coastal waters where small-scale fishers are active is relatively unexplored but already, the need for an ocean governance system, which will protect both areas, is evident.

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