|Abstract or Summary
- The evidence of the destructive economic and biological consequences of “bad” fisheries subsidies is now all but overwhelming. Yet still these subsidies persist, in spite of the evidence. This paper looks at ways of escaping the fisheries subsidies trap, by pursuing and developing a theme, which this author first put forward in a WWF sponsored forum on fisheries subsidies in La Paz. We commence by asking what the prime motivation politically is for fisheries subsidies. It is maintained that the prime motivation is income support, as in the case of agricultural subsidies. If so, then the first step towards escaping the trap is one provided for us by those involved with agricultural subsidies, namely the de-coupling of income maintenance from exploitation of the resource. This, however, is only a first step and is indeed very much a second best solution to the problem. The first best solution is one that is obvious upon being stated, namely improved fisheries management. Such management will raise the incomes of fishers, thereby removing the rationale for subsides. In support of this argument, the paper will provide a case study of a major fishery, with clear evidence in the past of severe economic distress. The resource managers responded, not with “bad” subsidies for the distressed fishery, but rather by introducing radical resource management reforms. The consequence has been a fishery that is now prosperous, free of government “bad” subsidies, and one that is actually experiencing negative subsidies self-imposed by the industry.