Knowledge for better food systems

Subsidy reform and distributive justice in fisheries

This working paper from the UK-based policy research organisation International Institute for Environment and Development explores how fishing subsidies could be reformed to promote social equity and better environmental outcomes.

According to the paper, over half of current fishing subsidies are harmful in that they increase levels of fishing, put more pressure on fish stocks or distort trade.

The paper notes that subsidies that are environmentally beneficial are not necessarily beneficial in terms of social equity. The authors therefore call for a thorough analysis of both the environmental and social impacts of any changes in fisheries subsidies.

Suggested measures for improvement include:

  • Unlinking subsidies from the amount of fish taken
  • Making subsidies conditional on sustainable management of fish stocks
  • Compensating fishers who decide to leave the industry
  • Involving stakeholders in subsidy reform
  • Effective communication of the benefits of reforming subsidies

Read the full working paper, Subsidy reform and distributive justice in fisheries, here. See also the Foodsource resource How do food systems affect fish stocks and marine habitats?

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While some of the food system challenges facing humanity are local, in an interconnected world, adopting a global perspective is essential. Many environmental issues, such as climate change, need supranational commitments and action to be addressed effectively. Due to ever increasing global trade flows, prices of commodities are connected through space; a drought in Romania may thus increase the price of wheat in Zimbabwe.

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