Why are fisheries declining?

WTO’s Annual Trade Report will be on the theme – “Trade in Natural Resources: Challenges in Global Governance”. So, WTO has this interesting e-forum to discuss the relationship between international trade and natural resources. In this interesting initiative, people are asked to discuss relevant issues on the topic in form of shirt articles. WTO then publishes them on its website.

I came across this interesting piece by Rashid Sumaila (Associate Professor, University of British Columbia Fisheries Centre) and Leslie Delagran (Economist, Oceana). The authors point that fisheries are decling and the reason is the government subsidies:

Rather than collecting rents from resource exploitation, governments have been actively subsidizing fishing, leading to even greater fishing effort and resource depletion. Subsidies that expand fishing capacity, including subsidies for vessel construction and modernization, operating costs (particularly fuel), construction of fishing ports and processing plants, payment for foreign access agreements and marketing support are estimated to total about $16 billion globally each year (Sumaila et al., in press).

This has been distorting the incentives and people aer just overexploiting the fisheries. This is even the case for private fisheries and not just for commons.

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