Quantification of U.S. Marine Fisheries Subsidies

Mar 03, 2009

Subsidies to the fishing industry are common worldwide, and it is well accepted that these subsidies contribute to overcapacity in fishing fleets and overexploitation of fisheries resources.

To date, however, most of the quantitative estimates of these subsidies reported in the literature have been at either the multicountry or global level. Estimates are rarely based on a detailed accounting of individual subsidy programs, limiting both their accuracy and usefulness for management decisions.

In this paper, Renée Sharp and Dr. Rashid Sumaila present detailed information and analysis on the nature and extent of subsidies to the U.S. fishing industry. By evaluating data on both state and federal subsidies, they found that government support to the U.S. fishing industry averaged $713 million per year, largely dominated by fuel subsidies.

The authors' findings show that U.S. fisheries subsidies could be worth one-fifth of the value of the catch itself. More than half of these subsidies could increase fishing capacity by either decreasing fishing costs or increasing the price of fish artificially. Of those subsidies that could be assigned to a specific geographic region, at least half went to Alaska and the Western Pacific.

View the complete study and the Lenfest summary report on the Lenfest Ocean Program's Web site.

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