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:



USA: fisheries subsidies and bilateral - plurilateral trade agreements

Apparently, the US is clearly making the case for including fisheries subsidies disciplines in trade agreements with other countries. Ambassador Demetrios J Marantis, Deputy US Trade Representative, was quoted to say, at at a press conference in Brunei Darussalamon on 27 February 2012:

"One of the problems that we face in the world of environmental conservation is subsidies that have a result of depleting fishery resources and so as part of the TPP, we're working on ways to discipline fisheries subsidies to ensure that they are compatible with environmental conservation"

Here is a link to an online article with the above quote: