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Despite the fact that nearly 90% of global fish stocks are either fully exploited or overfished, governments around the world continue to provide billions of dollars in subsidies to support the fisheries sector. These subsidies are often targeted at reducing or completely offsetting operational costs, fuel costs, and the cost of building new vessels or bringing more sophisticated technologies onto existing vessels, and thus often incentivize fishermen to remove more fish from the water. These subsidies are known to contribute to illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing, as well as other unsustainable fishing practices. It is widely believed that any global effort to recover overfished stocks will require examining and addressing the role that subsidies play in driving overfishing.
Long‐running World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations on fisheries subsidies will culminate at the 2019 Ministerial Conference, where a new agreement on fisheries subsidies will be adopted. This agreement will deliver on Sustainable Development Goal 14.6, which, by 2020, calls for the prohibition and elimination of fisheries subsidies that contribute to IUU fishing, overcapacity, and overfishing, with special and differential treatment for developing and least‐developed countries. At present, eight proposals with varying parameters on subsidy bans have been submitted for review at this WTO convening.
In this proposed project, the Sustainable Fisheries Group at UC Santa Barbara will develop a first‐of‐itskind modeling framework that empirically evaluates the way fleets, and therefore fish stocks, would respond to a variety of policies that ban or otherwise modify different forms of subsidies. Our model will capture the full range of proposals put forward to the WTO so that it serves as a comprehensive decision‐making tool that can effectively inform Pew’s campaign on fishing subsidies, as well as the upcoming WTO negotiations.