Overfishing is one of the main problems for the health of our ocean. And the provision of negative subsidies to the fishing sector is one of the fundamental causes of overfishing.
Fishing subsidies are financial contributions, direct or indirect, that public entities grant to the industry.
Depending on their impacts, they can be beneficial when they promote the growth of fish stocks through conservation and fishery resource management tools. And they are considered negative or detrimental when they promote overfishing with support for, for example, increasing the catch capacity of a fishing fleet.
It is estimated that every year, governments spend approximately 22 billion dollars in negative subsidies to compensate costs for fuel, fishing gear and vessel improvements, among others.
Recent data show that, as a result of this support, 63% of fish stocks worldwide must be rebuilt and 34% are fished at "biologically unsustainable" levels.
International negotiations to end negative fisheries subsidies, within the framework of the World Trade Organization, have been going on for almost two decades without reaching that outcome. The new deadline is 2022.
It is urgent to have an international agreement that establishes commitments and responsibilities, but it is also essential that there are measures at the level of each country to put an end to these harmful incentives.
If we want to have abundant and healthy fishery resources, it is time to change the way we have conceived fishing until now. We must focus our efforts on creating models of fishery use that allow for long-term conservation.