Ending Harmful Fisheries Subsidies Could Reverse Decline in Fish Stocks

Urgency grows for WTO deal that would boost ocean health, help ensure sustainable fishing

Healthy fisheries are critical to a healthy ocean but today many fish stocks are in decline due to a number of threats, including overfishing. One approach to curb overfishing is to reduce harmful fishing subsidies—payments from governments to the industry to keep boats on the water even when doing so doesn’t make economic or fisheries management sense. Although not all subsidies are harmful, World Trade Organization (WTO) member countries now have a small window of opportunity to do something about those that are, by agreeing to binding WTO rules.

The Pew Charitable Trusts recently launched a project that aims to improve understanding among WTO members of the effects of these subsidies and to identify paths toward reform. Harmful subsidies lead to too many boats on the water and other unsustainable practices, threatening the livelihoods of coastal communities and global food security.

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