Billions in Subsidies Prop Up Unsustainable Overfishing
Calls are mounting for the world’s big fishing powers to stop subsidizing international fleets that use destructive methods like bottom trawling in foreign coastal waters, drastically reducing the catch of local artisanal fishers who use nets and fishing lines.
Such subsidies total 27 billion dollars a year, with nearly two-thirds coming from China, Taiwan and Korea along with Europe, Japan and the United States, according to a University of British Columbia study.
Most go to building the ever-more-efficient ships that are required to catch ever-dwindling populations of fish around the world, with yet more subsidies going to offset their growing consumption of fuel as they venture ever farther and deeper to fill their holds.
The result, says Dr. Rashid Sumaila, lead author of the UBC study, is that taxpayers are funding the depletion of the world’s fish populations and the impoverishment of coastal communities abroad.
“A lot of the fish eaten in Europe, the United States and Japan comes from other countries, mostly poor ones,” because the developed countries long ago overexploited their own waters, he told IPS in a telephone interview.
“The more their fleets fish out an area, the harder it gets to keep fishing there and the more they ask for subsidies,” he added. “It’s crazy.”
A senior United Nations official agrees, charging last week that developed countries, which eat three times as much fish per capita as poor ones, are are depleting the oceans and depriving coastal fishermen in developing countries of their livelihood and coastal populations of food.
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