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A bottom-up re-estimation of global fisheries subsidies


Using a recently developed database of fisheries subsidies for 148 maritime countries spanning 1989 to the present, total fisheries subsidies for the year 2003 is computed. A key feature of our estimation approach is that it explicitly deals with missing data from official sources, and includes estimates of subsidies to developing country fisheries. Our analysis suggests that global fisheries subsidies for 2003 are between US$ 25 and 29 billion, which is higher than an earlier World Bank estimate of between US$ 14–20 billion. This new estimate is lower than our 2000 global subsidies estimate of US$ 30–34 billion. We find that fuel subsidies compose about 15–30% of total global fishing subsidies, and that capacity enhancing subsidies sum to US$ 16 billion or about 60% of the total. These results imply that the global community is paying the fishing industry billions each year to continue fishing even when it would not be profitable otherwise—effectively funding the over-exploitation of marine resources.

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Correspondence to U. Rashid Sumaila.

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Sumaila, U.R., Khan, A.S., Dyck, A.J. et al. A bottom-up re-estimation of global fisheries subsidies. J Bioecon 12, 201–225 (2010).

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  • Overcapacity
  • Overfishing
  • World Trade Organization
  • Fuel subsidies

JEL Classification

  • F01
  • H25
  • L79
  • Q22
  • Q28