NEW ZEALAND: questions on fisheries subsidies at NZ's WTO Trade Policy Review

Here are a number of questions by the European Union, and New Zealand's answers, at the 2009 Trade Policy Review. It concerns fuel subsidies:

(the references to paragraphs relate to the Report prepared by the WTO Secretariat (WTO document WT/TPR/S/216 of 6 May 2009). The answers can be found in the Record of Meeting which took place on 10 and 12 June 2009 (WTO document WT/TPR/M/216/Add.1).

Q50 In paragraph 26 it is mentioned that New Zealand introduced in September 2008 an emission trading scheme. According to publicly available information the fisheries sector is being treated differently than other sectors as will receive a free allocation of emission units covering 50% of the total of all eligible parties' 2005 emissions from the consumption of fuel. This free allocation will be provided each year from 2011 to 2013.

Furthermore, the official webpage explaining the functioning of the emission trading scheme mentions (see text hereunder) that this measure is a subsidy, for which one of the main raisons d'être is the fact that this sector is exposed to trade.

"Free allocation is being provided to various groups under the emissions trading scheme for a range of reasons. It's technically a subsidy, but it's a transitional measure only available to some emitters."

"The rationale for free allocation of emissions units to forestry and fishing is more that asset values are affected by introducing the emissions trading scheme, so allocation aims to achieve equity rather than deal with economic regrets. Having said this, there is an element of trade-exposure underpinning the rationale of providing free allocation to the fishing sector." (http://www.climatechange.govt.nz/ emissions-trading-scheme/questions-and-answers.html#fishing)

Could New Zealand confirm the above information?


New Zealand can confirm that an amendment to the Climate Change Response Act 2002, passed in September 2008, introduced an emissions trading scheme. This scheme was designed as a key instrument to introduce, over time, a price on carbon across the New Zealand economy. The scheme covers all sectors and the six main greenhouse gases, and, as such, is one of the most comprehensive schemes of its kind in the world.

The current legislation contains provision for free allocation as a transitional measure to some sectors of the economy whose competitiveness may be at risk, due to uneven coverage and pricing of carbon across economies in the short term, resulting in carbon leakage. Partial and transitional free allocation is envisaged for some sectors, including forestry, industry, agriculture and fishing, to adapt to this domestic policy measure of emissions pricing in the New Zealand emissions trading scheme (ETS).

We note that other emissions trading schemes, including the EU ETS, also involve the use of free allocation. The legislation is currently being reviewed by a special Parliamentary select committee, the Emissions Trading Scheme Review Select Committee.

Some of the information contained in the website quoted was incorrect, and does not reflect the official view of the New Zealand Government.

Q51 Given that most of New Zealand's fish production is intended for export, such subsidy can be considered a "de facto" export subsidy.


We disagree. There remains considerable uncertainty internationally about the application of WTO rules to measures such as free allocation under an emissions trading scheme, which is designed explicitly to enable countries to meet multilateral climate change objectives. These provisions simply level the playing field to avoid a distortion from the application of domestic policy to meet multilateral objectives. This is consistent with emerging international practice to provide a level of transitional assistance under an ETS.

Q52 Has New Zealand carried out an analysis demonstrating that the cost of the emissions trading scheme cannot be passed to customers (most of them third country importers) of New Zealand's fishing industry?


New Zealand is a price taker on international markets: the Emissions Trading Scheme will not change this.

Q53 Has New Zealand quantified the financial benefit for New Zealand's exporters of the aforementioned subsidy?


There will be no net financial benefit to New Zealand's fishing industry resulting from his transitional measure. The industry will face higher fuel costs given the inclusion of iquid fuels in the ETS. The free allocation will offset only a portion of those costs for a limited period of time.

Here is the link to the WTO website with all the information on the Trade Policy Review of New Zealand.



NORWAY: sales monopolies - supporting fishermen without subsidies ?

As I mentioned in my previous post on Canada, the way the market for fish products is organised in Newfoundland reminded me of the Norwegian “sales organisations”.

The “sales organisations” stem from the “Raw fish Act” of 14 December 1951.

According to this Act, which regulates the sale of raw fish ('the Raw Fish Act'), a number of fish species shall be sold through, or subject to approval by these ‘Sales Organisation', regardless of where the fish is caught, and regardless of whether the fish is delivered from foreign or Norwegian vessels. This exclusive right also includes first-hand sales at the fishing ground and during transportation to Norwegian harbour, and includes all catches which a Norwegian fishing vessel brings to a foreign harbour or to a foreign vessel.

The first-hand sale covers also sales of any parts, products or by-products of the above mentioned species. The first-hand sale includes also fish of the above mentioned species processed at sea, and their by-products. The Sales Organisations may upon application, give approval to the fisherman so that he does not have to sell his catch through the Sales Organisations.

The two main monopolistic sales organisations are the “Norges Sildesalslag” (for pelagic species) and the “Norges Råfisklaget” for codfish, shellfish, molluscs and small whales that are landed along the coast from Nordmøre to Finnmark.

Prices are negotiated between buyers and sellers but in case of disagreement it is the sellers, i.e. the “Sales organisations” that have the power, by law, to set the price.

Here are a few links on this issue:

On the “Norges Råfisklaget”:

On the “Norges Sildesalslag”:

On the “Raw fish Act” of 14 December 1951:

WTO: Director General Pascal Lamy on Fisheries Subsidies (4)

Here is an extract of Director-General Pascal Lamy, keynote address “How can the WTO help harness globalization?” to the WTO Public Forum on 4 October 2007:

"But things are changing in the WTO once again as we speak, thanks to the efforts of civil society. I am referring to the Doha Round negotiations on fisheries subsidies. For the longest time, many viewed the WTO architecture on subsidies as static, as not capable of change. But civil society soon came to knock on our doors, drawing our attention to the perilous state of much of the world's fish stock. Its message was clear, the WTO has a vital role to play in protecting the world's fish stock, in saving it from depletion.

The numbers that think tanks and NGOs put on the table left no room for ambiguity. They required no further explanation. An annual $14-20 billion of fisheries subsidies worldwide has been one of the causes of fish stock depletion, encouraging “too many fishermen to chase after too few fish” as saying now goes. Worldwide, the global fishing fleet, which includes 25,000 large decked-ships and well over 2 million smaller commercial craft, pulls 80 million tons of fish or more from the oceans, or four times the 1950 total! The story was alarming and the WTO Membership once again rose to the challenge.

Today, negotiations on fisheries subsidies in the WTO are in full swing and they are being taken extremely seriously. The Membership realizes the magnitude of what is stake were these negotiations to fail. And just in case it would forget, you have placed banners all over Geneva to remind us all of the need to reach an agreement! But civil society, in this particular case, did not stop at awareness raising, it came forward with technical suggestions on how the WTO could craft new disciplines; and in so doing has certainly made a real contribution. In fact, to a number of civil society actors this particular experience served to demonstrate how close collaboration with WTO Members can sometimes be vital to achieving their goals. "

In the above extract Mr Lamy says : “But civil society, in this particular case, did not stop at awareness raising, it came forward with technical suggestions on how the WTO could craft new disciplines; and in so doing has certainly made a real contribution.”

This reminds me that the WWF issued in 2004 a document titled “Healthy Fisheries, Sustainable Trade: Crafting New Rules On Fishing Subsidies in the World Trade Organization” setting out an outline of future fisheries subsidies rules. Some of the elements of this outline can be found in Brazil’s early submissions (see WTO docs TN/RL/W/176 of 31 March 2005, TN/RL/GEN/56 4 July 2005 and TN/RL/GEN/79 of 16 November 2005).

WWF and Oceana have also been in close touch with the U.S. government to provide advice on how to deal with this negotiating subject.


BRAZIL: questions on fisheries subsidies at Brazil's WTO's Trade Policy Review (2)

Here is a question by Norway, and Brazil's answer, at the 2009 Trade Policy Review. It concerns fuel subsidies:

(iv) Incentives and other government assistance

Para. 270 states that; “Brazil has been notifying periodically to the WTO its subsidies programmes under Article XVI.1 of the GATT 1994 and Article 25 of the Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures (SCMA). In its October 2007 notification, for fiscal years 2005 and 2006, Brazil included the SUDAM/ADA and SUDENE/ADENE regional programmes; the FINAM/FINOR/FUNRES programmes for the development of the Amazon and north-east regions and the state of Espírito Santo; the programme of constitutional funds for the financing of the north-east, the north and the mid-west regions; the programme for capacity building and competitiveness, enhancement in information technology; fisheries incentives; and the industrial technology development programme (PDTI) and agriculture/cattle breeding technology development programme (PDTA).”

Could Brazil elaborate on the specific content of the program for “fisheries incentives”? The footnote in para 270 refers to Brazil’s subsidy notification of 2007 where a program for diesel oil support is notified. Is this program still in existence? If so, could Brazil provide any details of it?


"Fisheries incentives notified and granted by the Brazilian Government encompass the "National Program for Financing the Improvement and Modernization of the National Fishing Fleet – PROFROTA Pesqueira", the "Program for the Support of Infrastructure" and the "Program for Economic Subvention to the Price of Diesel Oil Used by Fishing Vessels".

As to the second question, the "Program for Economic Subvention to the Price of Diesel Oil Used by Fishing Vessels" is still in force in Brazil. Fishing vessel owners or charterees (natural persons or companies); professional fishermen and fishing industries are entitled to this program. Its main objective is to match the price of diesel oil paid by national fishing vessels (after the rebate granted by Federal States in ICMS) to the one paid by foreign vessels.

The benefit takes the form of a reimbursement of the difference between the diesel oil price paid by the beneficiary in the domestic market and the price paid by fishing vessels in the international market. The reimbursement is only made if this difference is below 25%."

WTO: Director general Lamy updates WTO Members on fisheries subsidies negotiations

Here is an extract of Mr Lamy's report to the informal meeting of the "Trade Negotiations Committee" (TNC) on 24 July 2009:

With respect to fisheries subsidies, delegations continue to work through the road map circulated at the same time as the December 2008 texts. The Chair has ndicated that he expects to complete the discussion of the road map during the course of the Autumn, with a next meeting already scheduled for September and a further meeting expected in October. Following the completion of the road map discussion, the Chair intends to provide delegations with an opportunity to present any alternative visions as to the structure and substance of fisheries subsidies disciplines.

You will recall that the Chair emphasized when he issued his December 2008 text that he was taking the bottom-up approach to negotiations that delegations had requested. It is his hope that the intensive ongoing discussions will put him in a position where he will be able to issue texts, hopefully reflecting some degree of convergence, which can only come from members.

Here is the link to the webpage at the WTO website with Mr Lamy's speech to the TNC:


USA: American Samoa congressman asking for subsidies

In my post of 21 August 2008 titled "U.S. minimum wage: exception for American Samoa. The end of a subsidy?." I pointed to the possible end of the special regime for this U.S. overseas territory, as regards the ability to pay salaries lower than those paid at federal level.

Well, as the Samoa Minimum (hourly) salary is being brought in line with the federal minimum wage, canneries are leaving the islands because of the lack of competitiveness of the industry.

Chicken of the Sea will close its Samoa plant at the end of September, laying off 2,172 workers.

The management of the other big cannery, owned by Starkist, recently announced that around 350 workers will be laid off in the course of the coming months.

This situation has led U.S. Congressman Faleomavaega put forward a proposal to Congress to save the industry.

According to different sources Mr Faleomavaega is working with Star Kist Samoa to prepare such proposal.

In an article published in Radio New Zealand’s website the general manager of the cannery, Mr Brett Butler, is quoted as saying:

“Having a unified approach to the US Congress will put us in a better position and make them understand that this is something that will definitely help the people, the businesses and everyone around here in American Samoa. It is asking for the US to subsidise, but it is something that is needed to keep the economic viability here.

It is remarkable how candid and honest is Mr Butler when stating the need for financial support to his company.

Here is the link to Radio New Zealand’article:


And here the link to Mr Faleomavaega Congress’ website where additional material can be found on his work to obtain federal subsidies for American Samoa’s tuna industry.



CANADA: no more subsidies for Newfoundland and Labrador?

Canadian fishermen in Newfoundland and Labrador have been carrying protest actions against provincial government officials as they consider that no sufficient help has been provided to the fishing industry to overcome the crisis.

Another issue that has been raised by fishermen organizations is that harvesters are restricted to sell their produce to a limited number of buyers.

In an article published in “Coaster” on 7 July 2009, David Decker, the secretary-treasurer of the FFAW/CAW (Fish, Food and Allied Workers, affiliated with the Canadian Autoworkers), stated that:

"Right now the provincial government puts restrictions on harvesters hat say you can only sell to a certain group of people. There is no onus on processors to maximize the value of the catches, so in the end, they ell it in the marketplace and fishers are left with the residual. This can't work any longer and has to change"

In the same article, on possible (further) public money for fishermen, Provincial Minister Hedderson said on 30/6/09:
"Our government has taken a long-term approach to addressing the underlying structural issues in the industry that continually plague us every fishing season. In the midst of a difficult year, the fishing industry is resorting to suggestions of quick fixes such as subsidies, which do not deal with long-term structural issues and would violate international trade agreements. In addition, the industry has presented no financial evidence to verify the need for government intervention.”

With regard to Mr. Decker’s statement, I was intrigued by the words “…you can only sell to a certain group of people…”. This reminded me of another post I made on Norway’s legislation obliging fishermen to deliver their catch to certain areas (for example in Northern Norway).

In this case, i.e. in Newfound and Labrador, it appears that only a limited number of buyers are allowed into the market.

I decided to do some research on Newfoundland and Labrador’s legislation on fish markets. Well, these are some of my findings:

- If you want to buy shrimps in the Province you have to be registered as a “Licensed buyer”. These licenses are delivered by the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, upon recommendation by the “Fish processing Licensing Board”.
- Prices for shrimps (raw material) are “negotiated” between harvesters and processors. Harvesters can carry out a so called collective bargaining, i.e. they can act as a group vis-à-vis their counterparts.
- To facilitate the process of bargaining a STANDING FISH PRICE-SETTING PANEL “is to identify, in consultation with the stakeholders, particular fish species for collective bargaining, annually, and to ensure that binding collective agreements containing price and conditions of sale are in place prior to the normal opening date for these particular fish species.”

So, we got, on the one hand, the harvesters, being able to form a group and act in a concerted manner when confronting demand, and on the other hand, processors having privileged access to the supply of raw materials. No wonder that in such market set-up, with basically two players, the likelihood is high that deadlocks arise, specially at times of economic difficulties.

The above system reminds me also of another Norwegian fisheries policy feature, i.e. “sales organisations”. These organisations are made up fishermen and are in fact sales monopolies, allowing for the setting of minimum prices for the sale of some fish species. I will come back on these organisations in a later post.

Here are a few links to recent press articles on the crisis in Newfoundland and Labrador:

Rally for shrimp fishermen at Anchor Point (Northern Pen) 22/6/09

Protesters get meeting with Hedderson (The Coaster) 7/7/09

Here is the link to Newfoundland and Labrador Fisheries and Aquaculture Department website:


ICELAND: Parliament gives green light for EU application

In early afternoon of 16 July 2009 the Althingi, allegedly the world’s oldest parliament, voted in favour of Iceland’s submitting and application for membership to the EU.

The day after the vote, 17 July 2009, the formal application was handed over by the Icelandic Ambassador to Sweden, as this country holds now the rotating Presidency of the EU.

According to the different sources, Iceland could become a full member in 2011 or 2012, depending on the speed of the accession talks.

Will the WTO Doha negotiations, including on fisheries subsidies, be completed before Iceland’s accession to the EU?


VIETNAM: fuel subsidies not enough

"Central region fishermen forced to sell boats due to falling prices "

This is the title of an article published on 8 July 2009 in the website of Vietnam News Agency.

According to the article:
¨[...] the financial assistance has not been enough to compensate for the soaring diesel price. It now costs fishermen over VND100 million ($5,620) for a single fishing trip, and fisherman go on about four trips per year, according to Anh. The Government’s diesel assistance per year for one boat is only VND30 million ($1,690)."

Here is the link to the article:


ICELAND: EU Membership? Leaving the "Friends of Fish" group at the WTO negotiations?

The economic crisis in Iceland has left deep wounds. So deep that the government is going ahead with the parliamentary process to submit Iceland's application to the EU.

On 9 July 2009 the Foreign Affairs agreed recommending Iceland's assembly (the Althingi) to apply for EU membership.

The debate in plenary is, at the time of writing this post, still ongoing.

Is this the end of Iceland as one of the champions of the "Friends of Fish" (group of countries that would like to have the broadest possible ban on fisheries subsides at the WTO)?

Here is a link to a press article on Iceland's EU membership application.

USA: more fisheries subsidies for U.S. fishermen

Recently, two U.S. Senators, Olympia Snowe (Republican, Maine) and Jack Reed (Democratic, Rhode Island) have announced that the U.S. federal government (NOAA) will distribute USD 10 million for various New England fisheries programs, including “aid for fishermen affected by regulations”.

Sen. Olympia Snowe claims that her state's fishermen will receive $2.7 million while Senator Reed asserts that his state's fishermen will get $3 million.

In Senator’s Reed web-site one can find the breakdown of the subsidies. I copy here some extracts of Senator's Reed press release:

$4.7 million for a fishing gear (groundline) exchange program. $3 million of this funding will go to help Rhode Island inshore lobster fisherman and offshore permit holders in the region. $1.7 million will go to Maine fishermen to convert from floating to sinking groundlines.

$3 million to support a dockside monitoring program throughout New England, and to support data collection to help implement a management structure for the groundfish industry.

$1 million for collaborative, industry-led research on fishing gear alternatives to reduce bycatch of depleted stocks for winter flounder off southern New England. Cooperative research.

$1 million to support a permit banking program through which fishing opportunity will be preserved for small and remote communities in Maine.

$290,000 to help cover NOAA’s administrative costs and oversight expenses.

$10,000 to fund the Ernest F. Hollings Scholarship Program, which helps undergraduates ursue study in the fields of oceanic and atmospheric science, research, and technology.

These Senators’ announcements remember me of a paragraph (in page 21) in a study by SHARP and SUMAILA (see my post titled 07/03/09 USA: "fifty-six percent of fishing industry direct subsidies in the U.S. could be considered harmful to fisheries"). In their study the authors state:

"The U.S. Congress can appropriate disaster assistance for fisheries at its discretion, whether or not here has been an official government disaster determination and whether or not the cause of the fishery collapse was of natural or anthropogenic cause."

So, U.S. lawmakers have a great latitude and freedom of action to enact laws to provide all sorts of fisheries subsidies (good, ugly, bad, WTO prohibited?, WTO allowed?) to U.S. fishermen.

Here are the links to the Senators' releases:



BLOG: labels replaced by a "tag cloud"

Users will notice that the "Labels" page element has disappeared. I have replaced it by a "tag cloud".

I hope this will help when navigating through the information included in the blog.


GREENLAND: USD 93 million bailout for "Royal Greenland"

Royal Greenland, a company employing more than two thousand people and fully owned by Greenlands Home Rule Governement has received a bailout package of DKK (Danish Kroner) 500 million (USD 93 million).

The new government in Greenland has injected DKK 250 million (USD 46.5 million) in equity and granted a soft loan for a similar amount to the ailing, 100% publicly owned company. Royal Greenland is a large producer of shrimps.

It seems that the Home Rule Parliament agreed with the package on Sunday 28 June 2009.

An interesting feature of Greenland is that Denmark represents this territory in many international fora. With regard to the WTO, it appears that a Greenlandic Delegation joins the Danish Delegation at Ministerial meetings.

It is also worth noting that Greenland has a fisheries agreement with the EU. I copy here an extract from the information available at the EU website on this agreement:

"The Fisheries Partnership Agreement concluded between the Community and Greenland covers the period 1.1.2007 – 31.12.2012 with a financial contribution [annually] of 15 847 244 € including a financial reserve of 1 540 000 € for additional capelin and/or cod quotas and 3 261 449 € for defining and implementing a sectoral fisheries policy in Greenland.

This fisheries agreement allows Community vessels mainly from Germany, Denmark, UK, Spain, Portugal to fish in Greenland waters and is the only FPA concluded with a non-ACP States."

Here is a link to an article on the Royal Greenland bailout:


And here a link to the EU's website with details about the EU-Greenland fisheries agreement:



WTO - UNEP - WWF: "artisanal" versus "industrial" fisheries?

The debate on whether different rules should apply to the artisanal and to the so called « industrial » fisheries respectively is one of the major topics at the ongoing WTO negotiations on fisheries subsidies.

Here is the link to an article (titled "Who’s Harming Fish Stocks? Trawlers or Artisanal Fishers?" by Isolda Agazzi) with the views of some of the actors involved, directly or indirectly, in these negotiations.

My conclusion is that views still differ very much.

BRAZIL: questions on fisheries subsidies at Brazil's WTO's Trade Policy Review

I will include in my blog some of the questions (with the corresponding answers) put by WTO Members to Brzail on fisheries subsidies:

The WTO document with all the questions and answers can be found at the WTO's website (see "Trade Policy Review" under Trade Topics).

Here is one question from the EC:
(iv) Incentives and other government assistance
WTO Secretariat’s Report, page 76, para. 270

In addition to the data provided by the Government's and the Secretariat's reports, publicly available information indicates that Brazil launched in 2008 the "Mais Pesca e Aqüicultura" initiative with a view to promoting fish production in Brazil and setting explicit targets to be reached by 2011. Among the targets, the initiative identifies the increase of fish production by 40%, i.e. from 1 million tonnes in 2008 to 1.4 million tonnes in 2001. Concerning fisheries infrastructure the plan includes the constructions of up to 20 landing facilities for fishermen.

The EC notes that, among other subsidies, the following aid has been provided to the fisheries sector in the framework of the "Mais Pesca e Aqüicultura" initiative: i) a fuel subsidy programme amounting 18 million Reales and benefiting 2.230 vessels; ii) subsidies, including those provided by the Ministry of Transport, for the construction of fish landing terminals; and iii) subsidies for the purchase of 103 ice machines, 85 refrigerated trucks,

The EC also notes that a number of programmes ("linhas de crédito") such as the "FUNDO CONSTITUCIONAL DE FINANCIAMENTO DO NORTE – (FNO)" or the "FUNDO CONSTITUCIONAL DO NORDESTE – (AQÜIPESCA)" will be coordinated and will give the possibility to fishermen to obtain subsidies, inter alia, for the construction and modernisation of fishing vessels.

Further, the initiative seems to include the possibility for fishermen to make use of the subsidies of the "MODERAGRO" programme (CUSTEIO PECUÁRIO TRADICIONAL) covering, inter alia, aid in the form for: i) purchase of fuel, lubricants, ice, bait, and other operational costs; ii) nets, hooks, labour-costs, insurance, taxes, freight, and iii) maintenance and modernisation of vessels.

Information published by the Brazilian authorities on the "MODERAGRO" programme indicate that beneficiaries could receive up to 300.000 Reales aid to finance the above mentioned types of costs. Concerning canning and processing of fish products the aforementioned information mentions that funds from the "MODERAGRO" programme are also available for these activities. Could Brazil confirm the existence of such subsidies to its fisheries sector?


Unlike most of the countries currently with high fishing capabilities, which have started public investments and developed support programmes for the fishing sector since a long time ago, Brazil is a late-entrant in the international fishing market.

Brazil had the opportunity to draw lessons from the questionable public policies of today`s fishing powers in terms of overexploitation or even depletion of many of the world most important fish stocks. Such fishing support programmes have been criticized by specialized international organizations. In order to prevent the environmentally adverse results from those policies, the basic characteristic of all Brazilian programmes to support the fishing sector is a direct link to sustainability benchmarks.

First of all, regarding the programme “Mais Pesca e Aqüicultura”, we note that it is still not operational. So far it has only been publicly announced by the Brazilian government, and its timeframe refers to the period 2008-2011. We are at the disposal of the EC for further technical information once the programme is fully operational.

The programmes related to FNO, AQUIPESCA and MODERAGRO are not related to fish catching activities. They are aimed at enhancing the quality of the fish chain structure.


EU: transparency and fisheries subsidies

A few days ago the website http://www.fishsubsidy.org/ was launched. This website, funded by the U.S. based non-profit organisation "The Pew Charitable Trust", has the aim "to obtain detailed data relating to payments and recipients of payments under the EU's common fisheries policy and make this data available in a way that is useful to European citizens." (see FAQs in http://www.fishsubsidy.org/).

From a practical perspective, the website allows the user to make queries on, for example, the amounts of money paid to the different EU countries from 1994 to 2006, with the possibility to know the beak-down, even at vessel level.

According to fishsubsidy.org the information comes from "the European Commission, which compiled it from data submitted by EU national governments that actually administer the common fisheries policy"(see FAQs in http://www.fishsubsidy.org/).

In an article published on June 30, 2009 in the Irish Examiner, Ann Cahill, the Brussels correspondent, notes that:

"Some of the information on the new website does not make sense however. According to the results for Ireland, Sligo is the biggest recipient of subsidies while a boat fishing out of Sligo is the top Irish beneficiary. Killybegs, on the other hand, one of the countries biggest ports, is not mentioned at all. Meantime the boat that got the second biggest subsidy is Irish registered but fishes out of a German port.

The problem goes back to the member state where they fill in the information with no standardisation of the type of information either nationally or EU-wide, making it very difficult to get a clear picture. So Sligo is mentioned because it is one of the places in the country where boats can be registered. And Killybegs is hidden in the northwest region category. So far nobody can explain the German connection. The name of those who own the vessels receiving half the EU subsidies is missing too, as only the boat’s name is given. In Ireland the Mark Amay was the top recipient getting over €1 million."

Here is the link to the article in the Irish Examiner


Concerning these anomalies www.fishsubsidy.org states that:

"The data presented on this website has been obtained from the European Commission. In several cases we have discovered discrepancies, inaccuracies and straightforward mistakes in the data released to us and wherever possible we have queried this and often obtained corrected data. Ultimately, the data available on this site is only as good as the data we have received from the Commission.

Despite the errors we have uncovered, we believe that the data is reasonably reliable. Among the most common errors are the following: misspellings and irregular spelling of place names; incorrect years (you may notice years as early as 1960 and as far into the future as 2264); incorrect recording of municipalities (in some cases the names of whole regions, e.g. Galicia, or entire countries, e.g. Italia, have been given as a municipality. We have corrected the most obvious mistakes that we have detected such as misspellings of place names but in general we have taken the decision to publish the data as it has been presented to us, mistakes and all. We believe doing so will encourage better record-keeping by the responsible authorities (see FAQs in http://www.fishsubsidy.org/)."

Personally I find this website a very interesting initiative. Actually I suggest that such websites should be set-up for each country that is providing subsidies to its fishing industry.

In this regard, my advice to those working in the project is that they rename the website as fishsubsidy-eu.org. In the same way they could launch similar websites, such as fishsubsidy-usa.org (USA), fishsusidy‑jp.org (Japan), fishsubsidy-br.org (Brazil), fishsubsidy-ca.org (Canada), fishsubsidy-in.org (India), fishsubsidy-no.org (Norway), etc.

I will come back on the subject of transparency and the WTO in a later post.