Despite the fact that nearly 90% of global fish stocks are either fully exploited or overfished, governments around the world continue to provide billions of dollars in subsidies to support the fisheries sector. These subsidies are often targeted at reducing or completely offsetting operational costs, fuel costs, and the cost of building new vessels or bringing more sophisticated technologies onto existing vessels, and thus often incentivize fishermen to remove more fish from the water. These subsidies are known to contribute to illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing, as well as other unsustainable fishing practices. Approximately three billion people on the planet rely on the oceans for their protein, thus reforming subsidies and curbing overfishing has been identified as a critical step towards ensuring global food security and protecting the marine environment.
Our team has been evaluating a suite of questions related to fishery subsidy reform, specifically with regard to the ways in which global fishing fleets, and therefore fish stocks, would be likely to respond to a variety of fishery subsidy reform policies under consideration by the World Trade Organization (WTO).