(book chapter in Advances in Fisheries Bioeconomics) The practice by governments of providing financial support, whether directly or indirectly, to the fishing sector is known as fisheries subsidies. Since a backof-the-envelope calculation by the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) revealed that the total amount of fisheries subsidies paid by maritime countries globally could be over US$50 billion annually in the early 1990s, eliminating harmful fisheries subsidies has become a central issue in the quest to achieve sustainable fisheries worldwide. It is, however, worth noting that the issue of fisheries subsidies and its effects on overfishing is not new. Adam Smith (1970) himself expressed concerns about fisheries subsidies in his famous book On the Wealth of Nations:
The [subsidy] to the white-herring fishery is a tonnage bounty; and is proportioned to the [weight] of the ship, not to her diligence or success in the fishery; and it has, I am afraid, been too common for vessels to fit out for the sole purpose of catching, not the fish, but the bounty.