Transparency: cornerstone of optimal management of fisheries resources

Being able to understand, characterize and monitor subsidies granted by States will enable them to radically improve the long-term management of their wild stocks, increase revenues generated by fishing activities and secure food supply.

Subsidies categories

Data collection is essential in order to optimize the management of wild fish resources. Fisheries subsidies fall into the following three main categories, as identified by Dr. Rashid Sumaila’s research (table published in the OECD’s “Support to Fisheries” report):

Notifications needed to increase sound management of fisheries and sustainable fishing activities

The introduction of new disciplines by the WTO implies a global upgrading and harmonization of international standards of transparency. The introduction of such standards is a prerequisite for the implementation of a relevant regime of notifications by WTO member countries.

Given the urgent need to restore fish stocks globally, the disparities between States in financing the fishing sector and the significant differences in the production of statistical data, BLOOM and The Varda Group recommend ensuring that the following notification requirements be adopted:

  1. Policy objective of the subsidy;
  2. Subsidy program descriptions
  3. Scope, coverage, and duration;
  4. Annual US$ amounts;
  5. Sources of funding
  6. Administering authority;
  7. Subsidy recipients;
  8. Mechanisms of transfer.
  9. Fishing agreements’ annual US$ amounts;
  10. Publication of fishing agreements.

 We would like to emphasize the importance of ensuring that all information coming from current and future notifications should be compiled in an open and user-friendly database or platform.

Positions of Member States reflected in tabled proposals

The EU, ACP, LDC, LAC countries and New Zealand/Iceland/Pakistan all propose enhanced notifications of fishing subsidies.

We agree with the proposal of ACP that such notifications should not be overly burdensome for developing countries with capacity constraints, especially LDCs.[1] However, as no country should be exempted from notification requirements, specific issues could be addressed under Technical Cooperation.

Accordingly, we also agree with setting out a list of minimum information such notifications should include. (See section above for list). This was particularly stressed in the proposals of the EU, LDC, LAC countries and New Zealand/Iceland/Pakistan.

Click here to read our full review of tabled proposals ‘The Low Hanging Fish’

[1] Article 5.2 of the ACP’s proposal.


Sumaila et al., « Global fisheries subsidies : An updated estimate », Marine Policy, 69, 2016, p.190.

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