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[Limited release]Questioning voices from all over the world Let’s stop subsidized fishing Wedge ONLINE

Many of Japan’s fisheries subsidies have lost their purpose and ended up as “life-prolonging treatment.” When I walked around Hokkaido, I saw the current situation of fishing villages where the decline did not stop even with subsidies.
In the WEDGE REPORT published in the October 2022 issue of “Wedge”, we propose an indispensable perspective there. Some articles will be made available to the public on a limited basis. Please purchase the full text at the link at the end (Wedge Online Premium).

A fishing port in Enbetsu, northern Hokkaido, which is being improved with subsidies. There are less than 30 fishermen, and the subsidy that is poured into each fisherman is 280 million yen (photographed by the author).

On June 17, 2017, the World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial Conference concluded with the adoption of the Ministerial Declaration for the first time in six and a half years. One of the highlights of the Declaration was the Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies.

In the first place, the injection of subsidies by the government has the negative aspect of distorting free competition in the market. In the case of fisheries as well, if everyone competes to increase fishing capacity by increasing the size of fishing boats in order to receive subsidies, the fish could be exhausted. In addition, the injection of subsidies to unprofitable fishermen will help them in the short term, but it will not lead to a drastic solution.

However, in the negotiations for the Fisheries Subsidies Agreement, Japan continued to be reluctant to implement regulations, stating that “prohibited subsidies should be limited to those that truly lead to overcapacity and overfishing.” As a result, although the agreed subsidies agreement also prohibits subsidies to fisheries for overexploited stocks (Article 4.1), stocks can be restored to sustainable levels through subsidies and other measures. Important exceptions have been made, such as the granting of subsidies (Articles 4 and 3) where the aim is to achieve

Japan’s continued disapproval of fisheries subsidy regulations stems from the fact that Japan’s fisheries are dependent on subsidies. According to a study by Prof. Rashid Smaila of the University of British Columbia, Canada, who specializes in fisheries economics, Japan’s fisheries subsidies in 2018 amounted to $2.86 billion, of which more than two-thirds, or $2.11 billion, was due to overfishing. It presumes that it is a “bad subsidy” that can improve fishing production capacity until it causes it. The amount of this malignant subsidy is second only to China.

Japan is second only to China in overfishing
provide subsidies that can help

(Source) Created wedge based on the analysis of the article “Updated estimates and analysis of global fisheries subsidies” in the academic journal “Marine Policy”
(Note) Data for 2018

In fact, of the total fishery budget of 320.1 billion yen for FY2010 (including the supplementary budget for FY2009), 101.9 billion yen, which is about one-third, will be used to compensate fishermen for loss of income when fishing is poor and fuel oil when prices rise. 113.4 billion yen, or about one-third of the budget, is the public budget for the development of fishing ports. In addition, about 28.1 billion yen is allocated to a scheme called “fishing boat leasing business,” in which the government subsidizes half of the cost of acquiring fishing boats for fishermen.

Next » Subsidies can be ‘medicine’, but the question is how to use them

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