Baird Maritime has an interesting post that reports a study has found that, “…up to 54 per cent of the high seas fishing industry would be unprofitable without large government subsidies.” and “The research suggests that through targeted subsidy reforms, governments could save taxpayers money, rebuild fish stocks, and eventually lead to higher value, lower volume fisheries.”
In too many places, too many fishing vessels are chasing too few fish, depleting the stocks and leading to a downward spiral in catch. That governments would encourage this is appalling.
The World Trade Organization (WTO) has been trying to do something about this since 2001, and apparently they have decided to decide.
WTO members agreed to continue to engage constructively in the negotiations, with a view to adopting by the Ministerial Conference in 2019, an agreement on comprehensive and effective disciplines that prohibit certain forms of fisheries subsidies that contribute to overcapacity and overfishing, and eliminate subsidies that contribute to illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. The decision recognizes that appropriate and effective special and differential treatment for developing country members and least-developed country members should be an integral part of the negotiations.
With this decision, the WTO has made a multilateral commitment to fulfil Sustainable Development Goal 14.6, which calls for the prohibition and elimination, by 2020, of fisheries subsidies that contribute to IUU fishing and to overcapacity and overfishing, with special and differential treatment for developing and least-developed country WTO members to be an integral part of the negotiations.
Frankly I think countries are going at this ass backward. Instead of paying people to fish, commercial fishermen should be paying for a limited number of licenses to take limited numbers of fish. At least fish within the EEZ are a national resource, same as offshore oil deposits. We put the rights to exploit those resources up for bid. It should be no different for fisheries.