"Harmful subsidies often lead to a fishing fleet being able to go out fishing even if [the fishing] isn't profitable. And these vessels can go wherever they want—they can go to other countries, other economic zones. And so, we were really interested in the impact of these subsidies on the countries where these boats actually fish," stated study Author and Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries, Anna Schuhbauer.
A recent study conducted by the University of British Columbia found that 20 to 37% of harmful fishing subsidies support the fishing in waters outside the permitted jurisdictions. These subsidies are from developed nations, but somehow their negative impacts in the high seas have reached developing countries, causing global environmental and social impacts. Harmful fishing subsidies are the direct or indirect financial contribution from a government to a private sector that either increases the revenue or lowers the cost of fishing. The alteration of the economics behind the fishing industry can increase the exploitation of fish quantity and capacity. The affected economic factors are: fuel subsidies, tax exemptions, vessel construction support, and marketing and processing infrastructure investments. Altering these factors can lead to exponential risks both environmentally and economically for many countries and regions.
The unfortunate events of these harmful fishing subsidies have risen, in 2018 about $22.2 billion subsidies were provided to the world’s fishing fleets. From this substantial sum, about $5.3 billion were to support fishing in foreign waters and exclusive economic zones in these foreign nations; and another $1 billion supported high sea fishing. This unequal distribution resulted in many governments and nations being neglected of fishing vessel presence. Many coastal communities have a disadvantage to the big industrial fisheries because many governments won’t fund or even pay attention to the smaller regions. These regions are now missing out on these subsidies that may give their fishery an extra economical push.
"...we're not saying that the small-scale fishing fleet should get more subsidies, but maybe the harmful subsidies should be taken away and instead, provided as beneficial subsidies. Maybe for community-based projects or just generally for fisheries management for both industrial and small-scale fleets," stated Schuhbauer.
Through the team’s research, it was found that harmful subsidies can have serious impacts–it can distort markets and contribute to unfair trade practices; it can lead to higher CO2 emissions due to cheaper fuel costs; and most importantly and significantly, it can increase overfishing. They allow the space for the depletion of fish in international waters, as well as domestic. The ecological impact of these subsidies are becoming greater and greater, and according to the team it should not be underestimated.