By Taiwo Alimi
Fish subsidies have been described as one of the leading causes of food insecurity in Nigeria and Africa at large.
Fish subsidies are financial payments, direct or indirect from public entities to the fishing sector, which reduces the cost of fishing and/or increases revenues.
Dr. Rashid Sumaila, director of the Fisheries Economics Research Unit, University of British Columbia, a guest speaker at a webinar aimed at creating awareness on negative impact of fish subsidies in Africa by Earth Journalist Network (EJN), said: In Africa we depends on nature, no matter how you look at it. When there is no fish, there are no fishermen and when there is no fish, there is no fish dollars or fish naira or cedi.
“So, the environment is quite central. All evidence and data shows that we are overtaking the resources we need from the ocean, from our rivers, from our lakes and we are also over polluting them. We are taking the big fish, we are destroying the habitat.
With the aid of info graphics, Dr. Sumaila demonstrated the lopsidedness of fish subsidies whereby China, U.S.A and EU countries benefited more over and above Africa.
While China in 2019 got $5,952million, subsidies that went to the U.S.A same year was $3,553milion and EU got $3,814million, Africa received a paltry $1,396milion.
It will surprise you to know that from what is coming to Africa; only 16% gets to small scale fishermen, he said.
Fisheries sectors in coastal Africa and across the world are experiencing an unprecedented crisis, driven by intense competition for marine resources.
For decades, many governments have provided harmful subsidies to their fishing fleets to bolster their capabilities to increase catch domestically and in other countries waters, allowing them to drastically increase their capacity and profits.
Although these subsidies are often promoted as efforts to help small-scale fishers, they often end up subsidizing overfishing, increasing fishing fleet capacity, and contributing to the unregulated plundering of other countries fish stocks.
For the past 20 years, members of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) have been negotiating to reform fisheries subsidies.
With these negotiations due to be completed this year, another speaker, Beatrice Gorez , who is coordinator, Coalition for Fair Fisheries Arrangements, said Africa is worse off in the subsidy arrangements and the more reason the continent must kick against it.
Dr Sumaila further explained that fisheries subsidies work against sustainable development goals (SDGs), small scale fishermen, women, youth, ocean and the environment.
On July 15, WTO held a ministerial meeting on fisheries subsidies, which confirmed the commitment to set the course for a successful outcome on negotiations before the WTOs Ministerial Conference starting in November 2021.

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