MALDIVES: 6.5 million dollars fuel subsidy for fishermen

Readers may remember that in 2011 and 2009 I wrote a couple of posts on subsidies for fishermen in the Maldives. 

Well, it seems that for 2013 fishermen in the Maldives will benefit from fuel subsidies amounting to 100 million MVR (Maldives Rufiyaa) or 6.5 million USD.

As a matter of curiosity I calculated the total USD per ton of fish that fishermen would get next year in the Maldives. I took the production figures from the FAO. In 2010, latest figures for the Maldives, the FAO reported 94,953 MT fishery production. So, if we divide the 6.5 million USD by the production figure we arrive, for 2010 catches and 2013 budgeted aid, at 68 USD fuel subsidy per Metric Ton of fish.

Here is the link to an online press article reporting on the Maldives’ 2013 budget:

And here the link to the FAO statistics:


RUSSIA: fisheries agreements in Africa

Russian vessels have been active in Africa for many years, and they still are!

Here is an interesting article titled : "Russia to swap fish for students in West Africa", publised in "Russia beyond the headlines".

Here is the link to the article:


USA: fisheries subsidies underway for commercial fisheries "disaster"?

In previous pots on the US I referred to reports in the media New England ground fishermen problems. Well, now it seems that financial support could be underway, and this for up to 100 million USD.

Some of the statements by Acting US Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank and by Dr. Jane Lubchenco are interesting:

Here what the acting Secretary said:

“Fishermen in the Northeast are facing financial hardships because of the unexpectedly slow rebuilding of fish stocks that have limited their ability to catch enough to make ends meet,” said Acting Secretary Blank. “The Department of Commerce has determined that the diminished fish stocks have resulted despite fishermen’s adherence to catch limits intended to rebuild the stocks, and I am making a fishery failure declaration so that Congress is able to appropriate funding that will mitigate some of the economic consequences of the reduced stocks and help build a sustainable fishery. The future challenges facing the men and women in this industry and the shore-based businesses that support them are daunting, and we want to do everything we can to help them through these difficult times.”

And here the NOAA Administrator:

“Fishing is the lifeblood of many coastal communities, providing jobs, a continuation of an historic tradition and culture, recreational opportunities for millions of anglers, and contributing to food security for the nation,” said Dr. Jane Lubchenco, NOAA administrator. “Finding solutions will not be easy, but by continuing to work together, we can have healthy fish stocks, profitable fisheries, and vibrant fishing communities.”

I was struck by these statements. Clearly the U.S. Administration is ready to help fishermen, including with subsidies, to help them go through the current difficulties. It is also clear that U.S. fisheries managers recognise the essential role of fishing in the life of coastal communities, and perhaps more importantly, in contribution to U.S. food security.

Among those politicians who have pushed hard to get the U.S. Administration to declare the fisheries “disaster” we find Senator John Kerry. He is part of the so called Massachusetts Congressional delegation. 

According to the press article Senator Kerry will seek 100 million USD funds for New England fishermen.
Hereunder are a few links to press articles on the disaster declaration and on the comments by fishermen and politicians.

As final consideration: I wonder how such disaster relief will be treated in the ongoing Trans Pacific Partnerships negotiations, under the issues raised by some participants (including the U.S.) to address fisheries subsidies.


NORWAY: help for the (cod) industry?

Readers might remember that on 16 September 2009 I wrote a post titled:NORWAY: the "leveringsplikt", a subsidy to the processing industry in Norway ?

Now, in Norway, participants in a selected number of fisheries will be allowed to have a certain percentage of by-catch of cod at landing provided it is sold fresh.

The objective of the Norwegian authorities seems to be to maintain, and if possible increase, the supply of fish across the Norwegian coast.

Interesting to note is that the Association of Owners of Fishingboats (Fiskebåt) seems unhappy with a  policy "that would oblige vessel owners to supply fish to a fishing industry that is not competitive".

Here are two articles in Norwegian on this issue. The first one is about the new measures. In the second one readers will find the reactions of Fiskebåt  back in June when the government was considering proposals to secure supply of fresh fish to industries on the coast.





CANADA: Government of Nova Scotia "invests" CAD 25 million in aquaculture company

The Government of Nova Scotia is providing some subsidies to Cooke Aquaculture, a Canadian fish farming company.

The "investment" includes a CAD 16 million (USD 15.6 million) interest-bearing loan and a CAD 9 million (USD 8.8 million) forgivable loan through the Nova Scotia Jobs Fund and jobs. Of the CAD 16 million interest-bearing loan, CAD 4 million (USD 3.9 million) can be forgiven based on research, development and commercialization of innovation in the aquaculture industry.


WTO: U.S. accuses China of not notifying (4 billion USD?) fisheries subsidies

Many stakeholders in the fisheries subsidies debate have complained about the lack of transparency, especially by countries that are Members to the WTO. In actual fact the WTO has rules that oblige its Members to notify all the subsidies they provide and the fisheries (and aquaculture) industry are no exception to this rule.

The U.S. seems to have embarked in a "transparency" crusade, fighting those WTO countries (and there are many!) that do not fulfil their notifications obligations.

So, at the rencently concluded "Trade Policy Review" of China, Michael Punke, U.S. Ambassador to the WTO, said the following when delivering his statement on the review:

In addition, China has failed to notify large fisheries subsidies, even though China is the world’s greatest fishing power and the Secretariat’s Report cites a study indicating that the Chinese Government’s support of this industry has exceeded $4 billion per year.  The United States expects China, commensurate with its fishing status, to notify all of its fisheries subsidies promptly and to make a significant contribution in the WTO’s ongoing work toward ambitious and effective disciplines on fisheries subsidies.

Readers will find the full text of Ambassador's Punke here:


NGO: vast majority of capacity enhancing fisheries subsidies provided by Asian countries

The ICTSD has just published an "Information note" titled "Tackling Perverse Subsidies in Agriculture, Fisheries and Energy". 

At the end of the note it is stated that: "This publication is a contribution to the series of activities “From Harmful to Safe Subsidies” jointly organized by the Varda Group, the Global Campaign for Climate Action and ICTSD with the participation of Oxfam, Greenpeace, Friends of Fossil Fuels Subsidy Reform, Bloomberg New Energy Finance, IISD, UNEP and other organizations in the run-up and during the Rio +20 meetings in 2012."

Readers will remember that I wrote a post on this issue of "Safe subsidies" (see the entry 13 May 2012 on Rio+20).

I was struck by two graphs built on the basis of a 2010 study by Prof. Sumaila and others.

In the first graph (Figure 1 on page 3) Asia ranks number one region in providing fisheries subsidies. It also provides the vast majority of capacity enhancing subsidies.

In another graph (Figure 2 on page 3) one can see that in Africa, fisheries subsidies count for almost 60% of the landed value (2003). This makes Africa top the league when using this ratio to measure fisheries subsidies "intensity".

Here is the reference to the information note:

ICTSD; (2012); Tackling Perverse Subsidies in Agriculture, Fisheries and Energy; ICTSD Programme on Global Economic Policy and Institutions; Information Note; International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development, Geneva, Switzerland, www.ictsd.org

I downloaded it from the following web page:


UN: "safe (fisheries?) subsidies" at Rio +20

There is defintiely something going on with fisheries subsidies in realtion to the preparations for the Rio +20 conference.

The "Global Campaign for Climate Action" organised a side event on 30 April 2012, at the UN Headquarters in New York, titled "From harmful subsidies to safe subsidies". 

One of the speakers was Dr. Rashid Sumaila, Director of the University of British Columbia Fisheries Centre and the Fisheries Economics Research Unit. He discussed fisheries subsidies.

So, we have now, in addition to "the bad, the good and the ugly" (this is how Dr. Sumaila has categorised fish sibsidies), a new category: the "safe"!

Here are a number of links on this event:





INDIA: government criticism of University of Bristish Columbia study on fisheries subsidies

India seems to disagree with the data and the findings of a study carried out by UBC on fisheries subsidies.

The Government is aware of a study done by University of British Colombia which primarily raises the issues of high fisheries subsidies. India has expressed strong reservations in the World Trade Organisation about the inaccuracies of data and findings of the said study.
The above comes from a press release by the Press Information Bureau of the Government of India, which was issued as a reaction of the Union Minister of Shipping, Shri G.K. Vasan in a written reply to a question by Shri Manish Tewari in Lok Sabha on 7 May 2012.  

I found interesting that the text mentions that India's reservations where expressed "in the World Trade Organisation". Was this study discussed at the WTO negotiations on fisheries subsidies?

Here is the link to the press release:


UN: fisheries subsidies at Rio +20

Fisheries subsidies negotiations might seem "dead" or, if you are more optimistic, in deep coma at the WTO (I will come back on this) but they seem to be "alive" in the framework of the UN's Rio +20 conference.

In a BBC website I found the following text:

"Japan and the US have tried to delete language on ending agricultural and fisheries subsidies. Canada wants fossil fuel subsidies to end only when they are inefficient and cause "wasteful" consumption." 

Here is the link to the BBC's Science and Environment news page with the text.



GHANA: subsidy for outboard motors for fishermen... and more.

In Ghana "the government has announced a subsidy on the price of 40 HP outboard motors from GH¢7, 500 to GH¢4,900 to help boost the fishing season which is expected in late June."

This is a quote from an article of the "Daily Graphic" appearing the Govrnment of Ghana's official portal (date: 18 April 2012).  

Translated into USD : a price reduction from around 4,000 USD to 2,644 USD per motor. 

Furthermore  Minister of Food and Agriculture, Mr Kwesi Ahwoi, said on 11 April 2012 that "fishing communities, comprising 2,000 artisanal fishermen, were provided with echo sounders, a fisherman, were provided with echo sounders, a fishing device that made it easy for the fishermen to locate shoals of fish at sea.fishermen will receive" 

The article goes further and mentions that: "Mr Ahwoi disclosed that as part of the package to ensure the success of 2012 fishing season, MASLOC, in collaboration with MoFA, expected 1,000 outboard motors for sale to fishermen. In addition, MASLOC had ordered 100,778 metric tonnes of various mesh sizes of the legal netting materials for sale to fishermen."

Here is the link to the article in Ghana's official portal:


OECD: work on fossil fuel (subsidies?) and fisheries

Fossil fuel "subsidies" are clearly a hot subject.

Trawling deep through the Internet I found an OECD document titled "FUEL TAX CONCESSIONS" (©OECD 2012). It relates to the fisheries sector.

In the document I found two intriguing footnotes. Here are they:

"1. The Norwegian submission to this exercise specifically notes that "… in the context of subsidies within the framework of the WTO, tax relief systems may or may not be considered as subsidies. The purpose of such systems is primarily to regulate or „improve‟ the conditions of competition between different national sectors and the WTO does not take as a premise that possible countervailing measures will even out different conditions of competition between like sectors in different countries. To the contrary, the situation where a country taking countervailing measures subsidises its own sector (for the „like product‟) is not addressed by the WTO Agreement."
"2. Several countries (Canada, Denmark, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Norway and the United States) specified that they do not consider fuel-tax exemptions or other relief reported here as subsidies, but nevertheless provided data, in keeping with the G-20 Leaders‟ request. "

So, are they subsidies, or not?

Here is the link to the document:



NZ: Tim Groser's campaign against subsidies to fisheries (including fuel!) continues...now at the OECD

According to news articles in various media Mr Tim GROSER, New Zealand's Minister Responsible for International Climate Change Negotiations, will attend a two-day ministerial meeting of the OECD's Committee on the Environment that starts on 29 March 2012.

The press reports mention that "Mr Groser said he would use the meeting to emphasise New Zealand's ongoing contribution to global green growth, including through efforts to reform fossil fuel, and fisheries subsidies."
 This is an interesting development (see my previous posts on NZ and climate change negotiations and on subsidy notifications to the WTO).

Here is a link to the OECD website announcing the meeting:


And here links to the press articles:




INDONESIA: fuel subsidies for fishermen maintained

Readers may have noticed that the world prices for oil are showing an upward trend.

In Indonesia the government has decided to maintain fuel subsidies for fishing vessels above 30 GT. According to one on line article in the Jakarta Post discussing this issue it appears that for the whole economy "The government has allocated Rp 123.6 trillion (13.8 billion USD) in government spending for fuel subsidies, including premium gasoline, diesel, kerosene and 3-kilogram canisters of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG)."




Ms Selvi  J Jayalalithaa, Hon'ble Chief Minister for the Indian State of Tamil Nadu, has asked the Indian Federal Government to provide subsidies to the fisheries sector in her state.

The request for subsidies was made at least twice.

For the first one, on 14 June 2011, the Chief Minister handed over a memorandum to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh with a number of demands for financial assistance to fishermen in Tamil Nadu state.

What struck me, when reading the request made by the Chief Minister, is that the subsidies asked for relate to a whole range of programmes: vessel modification, new engines, aid to processing, fisheries specific infrastructure and, last but not least, fuel costs.

I copy here the demands on fisheries indcluded in this memorandum:

I. New fishing harbours: At present, approximately 1,100 mechanised fishing boats are engaged in fishing from Rameswaram base.
It is required to decongest the fishing fleet"financing for fishing harbours one at Poompuhar in the North at an approximate cost of 75 crores [750,000,000 rupees or 15,148,000 USD] and another one at Mookaiyur, South of Rameswaram at an approximate cost of 60 crores  [600,000,000 rupees or 12,118,000 USD] are long felt needs.

II. Special package for conversion of bottom trawlers into Deep Sea Tuna Long Liners: In order to reduce the trawler fishing pressure in the disputed waters of the Palk Bay area, the Government of India should offer a special package for conversion of bottom trawling boats into deep sea Tuna Long Liners suitable for deep sea fishing. As against the existing subsidy pattern available at the rate of 50%, the Government of India should give at least 90% subsidy for such conversion of vessels as a special incentive for conversion of the boats of thePalk Bay area. A sum of 15 crores [150,000,000 rupees or 3,000,000 USD] should be earmarked each year for this purpose.

II Assistance for Mid Sea Fish Processing Park: In order to benefit the traditional fishermen against the background of dwindling catch in shallow waters, the State requires assistance from the Government of India for a Pilot Project of establishing a Mid Sea Fish Processing Unit, which will also act as a ‘Value Added Export Oriented Park’. Under this Project, which will cost approximately 80 crores [800,000,000 rupees or 16,158,000 USD] , a ‘Carrier Mother Vessel’ will be stationed at mid-sea, and it will act as a source of essential inputs for the ‘Baby vessels’ which will be involved in commercial fishing in the deep seas. This will serve a dual purpose of adding value to the fish caught in the deep sea sand also consequently reduce the pressure of fishing in the shallow waters of Palk Bay.

IV. Reimbursement of Central Excise Duty on High Speed Diesel (HSD) to mechanized boats: To reduce the operational cost of mechanized fishing boats, the Government of India has a Scheme to reimburse the Central Excise Duty on HSD oil supplied to such boats. However, the conditions imposed for reimbursement of the Central Excise Duty, such as the requirement of the Boat owners to be in the BPL category (which is practically impossible for any motorised boat owner), and the monthly ceiling of only 500 litres per boat for availing of the subsidy are unworkable for Tamil Nadu, as well as other Coastal States. Such conditions should immediately be reviewed in order to make this Scheme operational.

V. Motorisation of traditional crafts: The present assistance of 3 crore per year for motorisation of nearly1,000 traditional crafts every year is very meagre for Tamil Nadu since there are 32,000 non-motorised traditional crafts in the State. It is requested that a Package of 15 crore [150,000,000 rupees or 3,000,000 USD] per year may be sanctioned so that at least 5,000 traditional crafts are motorized every year.

Here is an official press release by the State Government of Tamil Nadu announcing the hand over of the Memorandum:


And here a link to a website where a copy of the memorandum can be found (I did not manage to find a copy in the official website).


On 25 December 2011, and taking advantage of a visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Channai, the Chief Minister handed over another Memorandum that included a reminder of the requests made in the previous one, and of "A special package of Rs.10 crore every year for the State for the dredging of fishing harbours and bar mouths. The Government of Tamil Nadu had requested for an assistance of Rs.10 crore [100,000,000 rupees or 202,000 USD] every year to take up dredging of fishing harbours and bar mouths each year."

Here is an official press release on this second Memorandum:


And here the link to the webpage with a copy of the Memorandum of 25 December 2011: