In 2010 world governments agreed to eliminate, phase out or reform incentives that harm biodiversity by 2020. Yet few governments have even identified such incentives, never mind taking action on them. While some subsidies are well studied, such as in fisheries and fossil fuel production, there is an urgent need for the conservation community to study the potential effects a broader array of subsidies have on biodiversity. In addition, we need a better understanding of who benefits from these subsidies. We term this pursuit ‘subsidy accountability’, which is crucial but challenging work crossing disciplines and government ministries. It requires ecologists, forensic accountants, and policy wonks, calculating and forecasting the positive and negative effects of subsidies and their elimination on biodiversity and vulnerable human populations. The Intergovernmental Panel for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services recently concluded that action on biodiversity loss requires transformative economic change; true action on subsidies is one step towards such change.
The Paris Agreement aims to mitigate the potential impacts of climate change on ecological and social systems. Using an ensemble of climate-marine ecosystem and economic models, we explore the effects of implementing the Agreement on fish, fishers, and seafood consumers worldwide. We find that implementing the Agreement could protect millions of metric tons in annual worldwide catch of top revenue-generating fish species, as well as billions of dollars annually of fishers’ revenues, seafood workers’ income, and household seafood expenditure. Further, our analysis predicts that 75% of maritime countries would benefit from this protection, and that ~90% of this protected catch would occur within the territorial waters of developing countries. Thus, implementing the Paris Agreement could prove to be crucial for the future of the world’s ocean ecosystems and economies.
This information note sets out how the distinction between shared and non-shared fish stocks has been drawn in the academic literature and what the potential implications are of such distinctions within the context of subsidy disciplines and multilateral fisheries subsidies negotiations at the World Trade Organization.
This information note summarises how small-scale fisheries are identified in international instruments and academic literature and provides estimates of the proportions of total catch, landed value and subsidies that are generated and received by this sector. It provides specific suggestions, based on the findings reported in the paper, of how this socio-economically important sector could be distinguished in the context of subsidy rules in the World Trade Organization.