Busting myths that hinder an agreement to end harmful fisheries subsidies.

The World Trade Organization’s (WTO) has committed to achieving a multilateral and legally binding agreement to eliminate fisheries subsidies that contribute to overcapacity and overfished stocks, and to illegal, unreported, and unregulated fisheries. This agreement is due in December of 2019 and also represents UN Sustainable Development Goal 14.6. A strong agreement would benefit fishers and marine environments, represent a milestone for multilateralism and both international and national fisheries policy, and become the first global achievement of a SDG target. To help discussions and negotiations focus on real challenges, we briefly dispel five myths related to harmful fisheries subsidies. Harmful fisheries subsidies are not effective at competing with large fishing nations and worsen poverty in the long-term. The worst effects of harmful subsidies occur when management capacity is limited, and overexploitation and overcapacity in one region can impact others. Because most global stocks are already exploited at least at maximum sustainable levels, more fishing capacity is unnecessary. Turning away from harmful subsidies can enable new investments to benefit fishing communities, national economies, and marine ecosystems.