The period from 2019 to 2020 is critical in determining whether the World Trade Organization (WTO), tasked with eliminating capacity-enhancing fisheries subsidies, can deliver to the world an agreement that will discipline subsidies that lead to overfishing. Here, following extensive data collection efforts, we present an update of the current scope, amount and analysis of the level of subsidisation of the fisheries sector worldwide.
Oceans of Opportunity: The economic case for rebuilding northern cod highlights that a rebuilt northern cod fishery could provide 16 times more jobs and have a net present value worth up to five times more than today. With low fishing pressure and favourable environmental conditions, the fishery could recover in as few as 11 years, supporting economic activities worth $233 million in today’s dollars.
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.
(book chapter in The Changing Wealth of Nations 2018: Building a Sustainable Future)
Although trade liberalization may increase a country’s welfare, its specific effect on a country’s fishing industry has not been well studied. By decomposing the effect of international trade into four parts, i.e., scale-technique effects (ST), the indirect trade-induced composition effect (IC), the indirect effect of trade intensity through income (ITC), and the direct effect of trade intensity (DTC), this study empirically investigates the effect of trade openness on country-level fisheries production. To take into account the endogeneity of trade openness and income, we adopt the instrumental variable approach. We find that a rise in trade openness reduces fisheries catch on average. In particular, the long-run effect is large. This result implies that future production is affected by current overfishing through stock dynamics. Our decomposed elasticities indicate that the ST and ITC dominate in the trade elasticity of fisheries catch. While ST implies that overfishing would be affected by trade, ITC may either establish an “overfishing haven”, similar to a “pollution haven” in the environmental literature, or production shift of fisheries to countries with lax regulation to pass stringent regulation, which is more likely to occur in high-income countries.
Bioeconomic theory predicts that the trade-offs between maximization of economic benefits and conservation of vulnerable marine species can be assessed using the ratio between the discount rate of fishers and the intrinsic rate of growth of the exploited populations. In this paper, we use this theory to identify areas of the global ocean where higher vulnerability of fishes to overfishing would be expected in the absence of management. We derive an index to evaluate the level of vulnerability by comparing discount rates and fishes’ intrinsic population growth rates. Using published discount rates of countries that are reported to fish in the ocean and estimating the intrinsic population growth rate for major exploited fishes in the world, we calculate the vulnerability index for each 0.5° latitude × 0.5° longitude grid for each taxon and each fishing country.
In a thought-provoking paper released in Scientific Reports last week, OceanCanada Director Dr. Rashid Sumaila and his team of researchers uncovered the possible winners and losers in a world where the high seas is closed to fishing. Researchers found that closing the high seas to commercial fishing could be catch-neutral, and might even contribute to a more equitable […]
This episode features Director and Professor at the Fisheries Economics Research Unit at UBC, Dr. Rashid Sumaila. He explained to us the threat of over-fishing and how taxpayer money is currently being used to actually support the over-fishing that is occurring in Canada. Siting recent research he gives a great understanding of where the fishing industry […]