Fact Sheet

Tuna Fisheries and Subsidies in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean

Fishing for tuna in the western and central Pacific Ocean is an extremely valuable enterprise, worth an estimated $4.1 billion in 2009. But not all countries that participate benefit equally. Governments often provide subsidies to fishing fleets to offset the cost of fuel or other production expenses, thus lowering the cost of fishing and boosting the fleets' profits.

In a paper published in Marine Policy, Rashid Sumaila of the University of British Columbia and his co-authors identify government subsidies given to tuna fishing fleets operating in the western and central Pacific Ocean and seek to determine the overall profits generated by these fisheries. They find that eight developed countries, among the 29 countries operating in the region, brought in 60 percent of the total landed value (the monetary value of fish brought to shore) and were responsible for more than half of the government subsidies. Accounting for those subsidies, fishing for tuna in these waters operated at a loss of $753.5 million in 2009, the last year for which data was available.

Furthermore, because the subsidies allow many of the foreign tuna fishing fleets to operate with lower costs, local fishermen are often unable to compete for the resources in their own waters.

Read the full article, Subsidies to tuna fisheries in the Western Central Pacific Ocean, on the Science Direct website.

See the table for a breakdown of subsidies and cost of fishing by country.

Country
Landed Value
(USD Millions)
Total Cost of Fishing
(USD Millions)
Subsidies
(USD Millions)
Net Resource Rent*
(USD Millions)
Japan 888.47 486.92 305.11 96.44
Korea 543.68 338.90 236.54 -31.76
Indonesia 463.12 360.61 234.71 -132.21
Philippines 404.58 402.38 193.56 -191.35
United States 367.46 289.48 137.05 -59.07
Papua New Guinea 273.65 450.00 118.83 -295.18
China 287.13 164.67 83.12 39.34
Taiwan 433.50 296.91 54.16 82.42
Vanuatu 79.67 124.82 22.51 -67.66
Micronesia 38.30 49.13 22.41 -33.23
Spain 32.19 14.20 18.21 -0.23
Fiji 43.21 49.98 14.17 -20.94
France 30.87 25.47 11.42 -6.03
Marshall Islands 55.38 93.73 11.23 -49.57
Australia 16.26 14.45 8.69 -6.88
Kiribati 24.48 43.11 7.65 -26.28
Solomon Islands 22.42 36.94 2.90 -17.43
Samoa 11.43 16.20 2.78 -7.55
New Zealand 47.32 76.64 2.31 -31.63
Ecuador 5.22 1.99 1.19 2.04
Belize 1.30 0.20 1.03 0.07
El Salvador 8.76 3.37 0.97 4.43
Tonga 1.43 1.29 0.74 -0.60
Canada 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
Nauru 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
Palau 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
Senegal 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
Tokelau 0.01 0.04 0.00 -0.02
Tuvalu 4.19 4.82 0.00 -0.62
Total 4,084.04 3,346.25 1,491.27 -753.48

Source: Sumaila, U.R, et al. Subsidies to tuna fisheries in the Western Central Pacific Ocean. Marine Policy. July 2013

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Topics: Oceans, Environment

Project: Environmental Science

Places: Pacific Ocean

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