Manifesto Multilinko
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Sunday, May 27, 2007
the stupidity of fishing subsidies

To find out, Mr. Sumaila spent a decade building up two huge databases, using hordes of research assistants travelling the world. One database showed the price of each type of fish in every nation since 1955; the other showed exactly what each country's fishermen were being paid for. This, combined with Mr. Pauly's fish-stocks databases, allowed him to see why the fish were disappearing.

What he discovered, and documented in a series of fascinating research reports last year, is that the self-balancing nature of fishing is thrown out of kilter by the widespread government practice of giving fishermen subsidies for boat building and, especially, fuel. This money, which he described as "bad subsidies," are exactly equivalent to the scale of overfishing - the subsidies make the difference between a renewable resource and a dying resource.

Not only that, but fuel subsidies, he discovered, are responsible for the continuation of the most devastating practice in fishing, bottom trawling, which tears up the sea and destroys species. Countries pay $152-million a year in fuel subsidies to trawlers, which accounts for 25 per cent of their income. And the profit they make is only 10 per cent.

"Without subsidies," he concluded, "the bulk of the world's bottom-trawl fleet [would] operate at a loss, thereby reducing the current threat to . . . fish stocks."

Without "bad" subsidies, which amount to $20-billion a year worldwide, there would be fewer people in the fishing business around the world. But Mr. Sumaila concluded that this process would actually give the world more fish.

"There is a potential to actually increase the catch if we can agree to reduce the scale in the short term," he said, "and avoid subsidizing the industry too much in the long term."

I f**king hate subsidies.

Globe and Mail - A dose of global cod-liver oil - May 26, 2007 (full text for subscribers only)

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