Sunday, January 17, 2010

Government Subsidies Feeds the World’s Fishing Industry

By Pontus Abelt. Our ocean ecosystems are on the verge of collapse, and empirical evidence from numerous activist groups and government agencies show alarming reports on major declines in the ocean’s fish population and especially the highly sought after Bluefin tuna. This is mainly due to overt exploitation in terms of over-fishing, although climate change and pollution should also be considered, and while this issue has been on the world agenda since the early 1970s, there has been very little done to reduce and control the way the world’s fishing fleets operate. Instead of decreasing the number of these fishing fleets that destroy the ecological balance of marine life, the number of fleets is growing to meet the increased demand of fish production each year.

This increase, according to activist groups such as the WWF, is due to government subsidies that are allocated to the fishing industry. These subsidies are meant to help American fishing fleets to make up for financial loss within the fishing industry due to lower fishing quotas. However, the unintended consequences are that instead of compensating the fishing industry, these funds are used to equip the recipient’s fishing fleet that will enable these ships to compete against international fishing fleets. For example, in 2008, American fishing fleets received $1 billon in government subsidies that were supposed to go to sustainable fishing education and to establish state-led fisheries managements. However, these efforts have been over-ruled and the money was used instead to equip fishing fleets, which eventually leads to increased over fishing, perpetuating a problem this funding was designed to solve.

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