CANADA: more subsidies for lobster fishermen

Canadian readers of this blog are certainly aware of the deep crisis the lobster industry is going through.

In May 2009 I wrote a post with information on possible actions that the Provincial and/or the Federal authorities could undertake to help the industry. At the time Federal Fisheries and Ocean Minister Ms Shea, appeared to be reluctant to assist the lobster industry with federal funds.

Well, it seems that fishermen have been successful in making their case to the Minister.

Two official press releases by the Federal authorities, dated June 10, 2009, confirm the granting of subsidies to the lobster industry.

I copy here the paragraphs of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) press release with the amounts of money and the objectives pursued by the grants:

"CAD 15 million (USD 13 million) will be provided for Short-Term Transitional Contributions that will assist qualified low-income harvesters severely harmed by the collapse in market demand for their products due to the global recession. available only during this particularly difficult year, eligible lobster-dependent fishers will be compensated for a portion of their lost income caused by reduced landings.

The announcement by the Minister also invests CAD 50 million (USD 43 million) in Atlantic Lobster Sustainability Measures to support those in the industry who evelop and implement long-term sustainability plans. This includes a CAD 15 million (USD 13 million) allocation specifically for those who work in low-income areas and have experienced significant losses due to chronically low lobster landings."

The aforementioned subsidies add to the CAD 10 million (USD 8.6 million) coming from Canada’s Economic Action Plan, through the Community Adjustment Fund (CAF), to improve marketing and promotion of lobster.

Canada’s Economic Action Plan provides $1 billion over two years for the CAF, which will help create jobs and maintain employment in affected communities

Here are the links to the official press releases:




I have a question to the audience:

If you were to follow the "Good (green), Bad (red) and Ugly (yellow)" classification, as suggested by the Fisheries Centre of the University of British Columbia, how would you label the above mentioned subsidy schemes?

For those who not know: this "traffic light" type classification appears in a study on U.S. subsidies to fisheries carried out by the University of British Columbia (see my post of 7 March 2009).

There is also another question for which I would very much welcome answers from readers:

Based on the WTO Draft negotiating text on new rules on fisheries subsidies, how would classify the Canadian subsidies: as prohibited? as allowed (though "actionable") subsidies?

A final comment: I assume that Canada will notify these subsidies to the WTO Committee on Subsidies and Countervailing measures. Such notifications facilitate other WTO countries' work when asking questions on the subsidies granted to the industry.

CANADA: Canadian study refers to fisheries subsidies in Canadian fisheries policies

This week a study evaluating fisheries management practices worldwide was published in PlosBiology.

The study has been carried out by and written by Camilo Mora, a Columbian researcher at Dalhousie University.

The focus of the study is how governments, by means of fisheries management regimes, translate scientific recommendations into policy in an inclusive and transparent way. On the basis of the results the study ranks countries. According to the study "Canada's ability to create transparent policy for fisheries was ranked 20 out of 54 possible ranks. In terms of scientific robustness, Canada ranked 15 out of 63 possible ranks".

Concerning Canada, Mr Mora said in an interview to the Westerly News:
"In the scientific side it lacks a broader ecosystem-based management of fisheries, scientific recommendations are not fully incorporated into policies and it has a high fishing effort with some subsidies," Mora added. "Those conditions prevented a better global ranking for it."

Here are links to the study and to the press article from the Westerly:



MALAYSIA: problems in the distribution of fisheries subsidies

In my post on Malaysia’s subsidies of 23 December 2008 I was referring to subsidies provided by the Malaysian authorities to fishermen.

Recent press reports indicate that difficulties are arising in the distribution of the subsidies. One of the difficulties is, as said by the press, that “the cost of the fuel for them [the fishermen] to get to petrol kiosks to collect the subsidy was higher than the benefit they derived from the subsidy.”

To avoid this type of situation the government is thinking of distributing the fuel subsidy “at jetties, including fish-landing jetties”.

Another issue that the government is considering is to change the frequency (daily, weekly, monthly) when paying another subsidy, i.e. the catch incentive of 10 sen per kilogram.

Here is the link to an article in BERNAMA on this topic:



INDIA: less fuel subsidies for fishermen in the State of Orissa

Recent news in the Indian press echo the resistance from fishermen in the State of Orissa to cuts in subsidies to fuel.

According to the “Times of India” fishermen using motorised vessels received in the past a subsidy of Rs 1.5 (USD 0.03) per litre. The authorities want now to remove this general subsidy to motorised vessels and replace the scheme with a Rs 3 (USD 0.06) per litre but only for fishermen under the poverty line.

The Orissa Traditional Fish Workers Union (OTFWU) has voiced its opposition to the measure because, as many poor fishermen do not have a motorised vessel, very few people will benefit from the new scheme.

Here is the link to article from the “Times of India” with the above news:



NORWAY: the "leveringsplikt", a subsidy to the processing industry in Norway ?

In my previous post I presented readers with information on the situation in Venezuela as regards the expectations of Mr Chávez vis-à-vis fishermen . More specifically Mr Chávez expects that fish caught by fishermen who are benefiting from government aid should be delivered to certain processing plants. Thus fishermen are not free to sell their fish to whom they would like to (e.g. to the buyer paying the highest price).

This is not something unique to Venezuela. In another post (26/1/2009) I discussed the situation in the Argentinean Province of Chubut where shipping of raw material outside the Province is prohibited unless provided for in inter-Provincial agreements.

Norway has also a similar "mechanism" which is called "Leveringsplikt". It is the obligation to deliver the fish to companies located within a well specified geographical area and under certain price conditions. Actually to accept such obligation is a condition sine qua non to obtain fishing quota in certain regions of Norway, the so called "district quota" ("distriktkvoter"). You may guess that the "region" is the same as the one where the vessel has to deliver its catch, or part of it, because of the "leveringsplikt".

In sum, processing companies located in areas where the district quotas and the ensuig "leveringsplikt" applies have (at least on paper) a guaranteed stream of supply of raw materials.

Here is a link to a webpage (in Norwegian) with an announcement on this mechanism:



VENEZUELA: President Chavez and subsidies to fisheries

President Chavez has expressed his dissatisfaction about the way the some in the fishing industry (fishermen, processors) are behaving after having received subsidies from the government.

In a statement on 28 May 2009, Mr. Chávez said the following (translated from Spanish):

“We are providing loans to artisanal fishermen, we have banned deep sea trawling, we have created a financial fund for fisheries. And now, to whom are selling fishermen their produce? There you see the real face of capitalism, capitalism is unforgiving, capitalism is a poison. And we all get hooked on it. “

It seems that what lead Mr. Chavez to make this scathing statement was the alleged disappearance of sardines at “La Gaviota”, a fish processing company in Cumaná (State of Sucre).

So, it seems that fishermen receiving help from the government are bound to deliver their catch to “La Gaviota”. By the way, this company was nationalised on 1 May 2009 (Labour’s day).

This brings to my mind a similar situation in Norway, where fishermen are bound to land catches within a certain geographical area, if they want to get catch quotas in that particular area. It is the so called “leveringsplikt”. I will come back on this “policy tool” in a separate post.

Here is a link to an article from the “Radio Nacional de Venezuela”:

And here is a link to a video on the nationalization of the company:


WTO, UNEP: different figures on fisheries subsidies

When reading the statements by the Director of the WTO, Pascal Lamy and by UNEP I noticed that they got different figures:

Mr Lamy says: "Governments have contributed to this problem by providing nearly (USD) 16 billion annually in subsidies to the fisheries sector."

UNEP says: “perverse and wasteful subsidies totaling up to USD 35 billion a year”.

Where did they get their figures from? Who is right?

UNEP: fisheries subsidies and Oceans Day

UNEP, the United Nations Environment Programme joined its voice to those coming from trade quarters (WTO, US Trade Representative) on the need to eliminate “perverse and wasteful subsidies totaling up to USD 35 billion a year” that fuel the over exploitation of the fisheries resources.

Here is the link to the UNEP statement:


CANADA: Provincial loan for Clearwater Seafoods Limited Partnership

The Canadian Province of Nova Scotia, through the Economic and Rural Development department’s Industrial Expansion Fund, will be particpating in a syndicated loan to Clearwater, a Canadian company employing more than 1,200 employees throughout Nova Scotia selling seafood, including scallops, lobster, clams, coldwater shrimp, crab and ground fish

The Province will take CAD 15 million, out of a total of CAD 57 million to help pay down Clearwater's CAD 95 million debt, and will hold a first security interest on Clearwater’s commercial fishing licenses and quotas, and a second security on all other tangible and intangible assets.

Here are a number of links with the news:





INDIA: fuel subsidies cancelled in Gurajat

Gujarat government’s decided last mont to cancel diesel subsidies for over 20,000 fishing boats in the state, which have engines of more than 74 horsepower.

According to the secretary of Gujarat's National Fisheries Federation, Manish Lodhari, the decision will affect more than 20,000 boat owners in the state.

The Deputy Director of Fisheries of Gujarat's goverment, Riddish Pathak, said that more than 2,000 boats which have engine of less than 74 horsepower would not be affected by this decision.

He also said that “Owners of these bigger boats are affluent fishermen and can afford unsubsidised diesel” (boats with engines of over 74 horsepower had been given 24,000 litres of subsidised diesel).

Here is the link to a press article announcing this:



USA: Lousiana providing subsidies because of a "fisheries disaster"

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) has aanounced a $30 million subsidy programme to assist the commercial fishing industry that suffered damages from hurricanes Gustav and Ike this past year.

The funds for these subsidies come from a USD 40 million appropriation by the U.S. Congress and allocated to Louisiana for fisheries disaster assistance to the commercial fishing industry under sections 308(b) and 308(d) of the Interjurisdictional Fisheries Act (16 U.S.C. 4107) (NOAA Grant Number NA09NMF4520024).

Here is the link to website of the State of Louisiana announcing the subsidies:



USA: US Trade Representative R. Kirk and fisheries subsidies on Oceans Day

Another voice has been raised on Oceans Day on the need to conclude the WTO's Doha Development Round...because of a possible agreement on new disciplines on fisheries subsidies.

Ron Kirk, President's Obama Trade Representative, issued the following statement today:

"Last year, the United Nations first proclaimed June 8 as World Oceans Day. This observance is a time to reflect on the importance of the world's oceans to our planet's health. World Oceans Day is also a timely reminder of the many pressures the oceans face.

"Millions of people depend on the oceans for their food and livelihood, yet fish stocks are declining at an alarming rate due to fishing fleet overcapacity and overfishing. I am pleased that trade ministers play a constructive role in helping to address some of these challenges.

"In the World Trade Organization (WTO) Doha Development Agenda negotiations, the United States is a leader in pressing for stronger rules that prohibit harmful fisheries subsidies that contribute to overcapacity and overfishing. We will continue to seek an ambitious outcome in those negotiations, as well as explore other ways that trade policy can help the oceans support healthy fish stocks for generations to come."

And here is the link to the USTR's website with the statement:

WTO: Director General Lamy and fisheries subsidies on Oceans Day

Pascal Lamy has been referring to fisheries subsidies as one of the reasons why it is worthwile to conclude the ongoing WTO's Doha Development Agenda negotiations.

Today, Oceans Day, he did not miss the opportunity to, once again, draw the world's attention to this negotiating subject.

Here is the statement:

“Today is World Oceans Day, an occasion for all of us to appreciate the beauty, power and wonder of the oceans which provide humankind with so much. For many, the oceans are a source of nourishment and livelihood. For others, a source of pleasure and sport. But today is also a day to reflect on the harm which we have wrought to these vast reservoirs which cover nearly two-thirds of the surface of this planet. Today, we run the risk that over-fishing will so deplete fish stocks in our oceans that many species will disappear forever.

“This is not only bad news for the oceans, it is bad news for the world's 43.5 million full-time fishers. Governments have contributed to this problem by providing nearly $16 billion annually in subsidies to the fisheries sector. This support keeps more boats on the water and fewer fish in the sea. But WTO members are now negotiating to reform these subsidies programmes so that fishing becomes a sustainable industry and so that we can fully appreciate our oceans' bounty for generations to come. A deal in the WTO now would mean richer oceans for future generations.”
And here is the link to the WTO website:



USA: public private partnership in subsidies for the fishing sector

The new head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Jane Lubchenco recently announced funding to implement fisheries management based on fishermen's "catch shares" (read individual fishing quotas).

Ms Lubchenco announced an initial USD 16 million in financial assistance to mitigate economic impacts linked to the introduction of the new management system.

More recently, during a speech at the Fisheries Councils Coordination Committee Meeting in Boston, Massachusetts on Tuesday, May 19, 2009, Ms Lubchenco said:

“In addition to that we are also working with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to provide additional resources to Councils to help break through any financial bottlenecks you experience in moving catch shares forward”

According to press articles these resources will amount to an additional USD 21 million, on top of the already pledged USD million.

The interesting thing about the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, is that it is a body created by the U.S. Congress that, besides being publicly funded, also receives funds from non-government sources. The aforementioned mentioned press articles mention companies such as Bechtel, Dupont, Bank of America, BP, Conoco Phillips, Exxon Mobil, Shell and Marathon Oil.

So, all together a very innovative way in providing funds to the fishing industry. Nevertheless, even if part of the money does not come from government it remains a subsidy as the body providing the monies is under government control.

Here are some links related to this post: