COVID-19 is a chance to end harmful fishing subsidies. Here’s why we must take it

COVID-19 is a chance to end harmful fishing subsidies. Here's why we must take it

Article written by OceanCanada‘s Scientific Director, Dr. U. Rashid Sumaila. Full article published at

  • The COVID-19 recovery is a chance to foster a truly sustainable ocean economy.
  • To that end, the world must work together to end harmful subsidies that encourage overfishing and exploitation.
  • Funds should be diverted to encourage sustainable fishing practices – and the WTO has a crucial role to play.

Discussions are raging on where and how governments should apply stimulus for their post-COVID-19 economic recovery plans. Will they, for example, support economic sectors which we know are causing irreversible damage to the environment and the natural world, such as the fossil fuels sector? Or are the recovery plans a unique chance to finally bring our production and consumption patterns in line with environmental imperatives and commitments to sustainable development?

The way we use and interact with ocean resources must be part of this discussion. The choice we face is whether to continue pouring public funds into practices that incentivize large industrial fishing fleets and operations that are putting life in the ocean at risk – or instead to stimulate action that will help us replenish ocean life and marine biodiversity. The World Trade Organization (WTO) has been discussing this issue for many years, which is also enshrined in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) endorsed five years ago by the UN General Assembly. Now is the time for action.

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