Fisheries subsidies have attracted considerable attention worldwide since the 1990s. The World Trade Organization (WTO), among others, started to strengthen its disciplines in fisheries subsidies in 2001. The academic study of fisheries subsidies can play a key role in contributing to policy-making processes such as WTO negotiations by providing more accurate information on the link between subsidies and overfishing. This paper aims to review the existing academic literature and discuss the role of academic studies in the process of designing and implementing policies on fisheries subsidies. Academic studies on fishery subsides can be divided into three branches: descriptive, theoretical, and empirical. Overall, there has been significant progress in empirical studies on fishery subsidies during the last decade. While the number of studies is still limited, they generate insights that are consistent with theoretical predictions. As for potential contributions of academic studies to actual policies and sustainable management, more interaction between academic experts and policy makers is desirable.
This article presents the first bottom-up analysis of the proportion of global marine fisheries subsidies to small-scale fisheries (SSF). Using existing data, the reported national subsidy amounts are split into the fraction that goes to small- and large-scale fishing sectors. Results reveal a major imbalance in subsidy distribution, with SSF receiving only about 16% of the total global fisheries subsidy amount of $35 billion in 2009. To bring this into perspective, a person engaged in large-scale fishing received around 4 times the amount of subsidies received by their SSF counterparts. Furthermore, almost 90% of capacity-enhancing subsidies, which are known to exacerbate overfishing go to large-scale fisheries, thus increasing the unfair competitive advantage that large-scale fisheries already have. The developmental, economic and social consequences of this inequity are huge and impair the economic viability of the already vulnerable small-scale fishing sector. Conclusions indicate that taxpayers’ money should be used to support sustainable fishing practices and in turn ocean conservation, and not to foster the degradation of marine ecosystems, often a result of capacity-enhancing subsidies. Reducing capacity-enhancing subsidies will have minimal negative effects on SSF communities since they receive very little of these subsidies to begin with. Instead, it will help correct the existing inequality, enhance SSF economic viability, and promote global fisheries sustainability.
Global trade in fishery products plays a significant role in shaping the harvesting and use of fish, and therefore will be an important part of a transition to sustainable fisheries. This article provides an overview of global trade flows in fish and fishery products as well as future trends affecting the sector. It then moves on to review trade policy measures applied in major producing and importing countries, including tariff, non-tariff measures, and fisheries subsidies. It ends with an overview of recent developments in international frameworks governing trade in fish and fishery products at the global, regional and national levels.