Harmful fisheries subsidies in Nigeria and Africa, say experts
By Taiwo Alimi
Fish subsidies have been described as one of the main causes of food insecurity in Nigeria and Africa in general.
Fish subsidies are financial payments, direct or indirect, from public entities to the fishing sector, which reduce the cost of fishing and / or increase income.
Dr. Rashid Sumaila, Director of the Fisheries Economics Research Unit at the University of British Columbia, guest speaker at a webinar to raise awareness of the negative impact of fish subsidies in Africa by Earth Journalist Network (EJN) said: “In Africa we depend on nature, no matter how you look at it. When there are no fish, there are no fishermen, and when there are no fish, there are no fish dollars, nor fish naira or cedi.
“So the environment is pretty central. All the evidence and data shows that we are exceeding the resources we need from the ocean, our rivers, our lakes and also polluting them excessively. We take the big fish, we destroy the habitat.
Using infographics, Dr Sumaila demonstrated the imbalance in fish subsidies from which China, the US and EU countries have benefited most beyond Africa.
While China in 2019 received $ 5,952 million, the grants that went to the United States in the same year were $ 3,553 million and the EU received $ 3,814 million, Africa received a paltry 1,396 million dollars.
“It will surprise you to know that from what is happening in Africa; only 16% make it to small-scale fishermen, ”he said.
The fisheries sectors in coastal Africa and around the world are experiencing an unprecedented crisis, driven by intense competition for marine resources.
For decades, many governments have given harmful subsidies to their fishing fleets to enhance their capacity to increase catches domestically and in the waters of other countries, allowing them to dramatically increase their capacity and profits.
Although these subsidies are often presented as efforts to help artisanal fishermen, they often end up subsidizing overfishing, increasing the capacity of fishing fleets and contributing to the unregulated plunder of fish stocks in other countries.
For 20 years, members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) have been negotiating to reform fisheries subsidies.
With negotiations due to end this year, another speaker, Beatrice Gorez, coordinator of the Coalition for Fair Fisheries Agreements, said Africa was worse off in subsidy agreements and that was the reason for which the continent had to oppose.
Dr Sumaila further explained that fisheries subsidies go against the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), small-scale fishers, women, youth, the ocean and the environment.
On July 15, the WTO held a Ministerial Meeting on Fisheries Subsidies, which confirmed the commitment to pave the way for a positive outcome of the negotiations ahead of the WTO Ministerial Conference which will begin in November 2021.