Special Privilege Ruining Our Seas
Commercial Fishing Subsidies Hurt Everyone
Here are portions of an excellent report by Reuters on one of the most destructive forms of international corporate welfare -- artificial subsidies to commercial fishing companies.
by Stephanie NebehayMassive subsidies to the fishing industry, estimated at $15 billion per year, have depleted the world's fish stocks and contributed to a commercial fishing crisis, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) said.
In a report, the Swiss-based conservation group called for radical reform of the sector by launching global negotiations under the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to cut the subsidies.
"We believe fishing subsidies are an important element in the crisis confronting commercial fishing today," David Schorr, director of WWF's sustainable commerce programme, told a news briefing in Geneva.
"Fishing subsidies are massive, many are harmful, and most are hidden," he added. "We are seeing major commercial stocks crash in ocean after ocean. The world fleet is too big and too many boats are chasing too few fish."
WWF accused Japan of paying the highest subsidies to its national fishing industry, which it put at $2 billion. The 15-member European Union, China and the United States are other leading underwriters, the report said.
The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organisation estimates 50 percent of major fish stocks are heavily exploited with catches close to their limit, with another 15 percent over-fished.
Depleted stocks include hake in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Argentina and Atlantic swordfish, and there are also problems with Pacific tuna, Schorr said.
SUBSIDIES 20 PERCENT OF CATCH
Government subsidies account for nearly 20 percent of the value of the world's annual commercial fish catch, estimated at $76-$80 billion, the WWF said.
They are given in the form of grants, loans and loan guarantees, equity infusions, tax preferences, and price or income support programmes.
WWF said that winning governmental commitments to tackle the fishing issue was its top priority at an upcoming WTO ministerial meeting which may launch a new round of global trade negotiations.
The WTO's 142 member states, and some 30 countries waiting to join, are to gather in Qatar from Nov 9-13.
"We believe WTO has a strong role to play in reducing and reforming fish subsidies," Schorr said. "The time has come."
Some countries including Australia, Iceland, New Zealand, Peru, and the Philippines have backed the move to address fishing subsidies at the WTO.
Subsidy scandals and corruption around the world have not changed a lot in 96 years. For a book that examines all forms of privilege as of 1905, click here.
Not disgusted yet? Then visit the Corporate Welfare Shame Site for even more tales of artificial, anti-market subsidies that taxpayers are forced to finance.
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