Fishing subsidies promote overfishing
A study released Tuesday claims U.S. taxpayers doled out more than USD 6.4 billion (EUR 5.1 billion) in federal and state subsidies to the commercial fishing industry from 1996 to 2004, possibly accelerating overfishing. That's an annual average of USD 713 million (EUR 565.3 million).
The study - conducted by Renee Sharp, a senior analyst for Environmental Working Group, and fisheries economist Ussif Rahid Sumaila, director of the University of British Columbia's Fisheries Centre - was published in the North American Journal of Fisheries Management and funded by the Lenfest Ocean Program.
The study's researchers said 56 percent of U.S. fishing industry subsidies - most of which go to Alaska, Hawaii and American Samoa - may be harming fish stocks. By reducing overhead costs, subsidies promote increased fishing capacity, which in turn can contribute to overfishing, they added.
"Through this study we found that previous subsidy numbers were considerable underestimates," said Sharp.
"This study suggests that it may be possible to improve the health of fisheries in the U.S. by aligning federal and state support of the fishing industry with the goal of rebuilding and creating sustainable fisheries," said Charlotte Hudson, director of the Lenfest Ocean Program.