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.
The ultimate goal of this contribution is to formulate fish trade policy recommendations that can be deployed to help achieve the relevant Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations (SDGs). Even though all the 17 SDGs are relevant to the issues addressed in this contribution, I will focus on SDG14: Life under the water, and also SDG 1: (No poverty); 2: (Zero hunger); 3: (Gender equality); 4: (Reduced inequality); and 12: (Responsible consumption and production). Before I get to the recommendations, I will review the literature on the relationship between fish trade and sustainable fisheries; and discuss the potential promise (pros) and perils (costs) of fish trade. Policy recommendations for using fish trade to support the SDGs are provided under different headings that capture the main concerns highlighted in the literature when it comes to ensuring the sustainability of fisheries in general and those related to the impact of trade on fisheries sustainability in particular. The policy measures presented in this chapter have the potential to help ensure that trade in fish and fish products would support the implementation of the SDGs.