Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Overfishing Heavily Subsidized

Quote of the day: "Taxpayer money is directly contributing to the decline of worldwide fish stocks." Probably not a huge surprise, particularly to the libertarians out there, but $27 billion goes every year to promote fishing, and according to research described here, 60% of that goes to fishing done with unsustainable practices.

In many developing countries, food and income associated with fishing are important to the poor. When fishing is subsidized, those people suffer the most. Who benefits? Well, of course people doing the fishing benefit, but also people who consume a lot of fish benefit in the short run from lower prices (though we pay the difference as taxes). However, those people can expect to pay higher prices later as fish become scarce more quickly.

It's cases like agricultural and fishing subsidies that put environmentalists and libertarians in the same camp, which is relatively rare. Too bad their combined energies are not enough to persuade politicians to cut back on the subsidies!

1 comment:

  1. Let's not forget the that subsidies only help fishermen in the short run. As subsidies make fishing more attractive, more people decide to become or remain fishermen. In the long run this pushes down prices -- and profits -- to the point where the fishermen are struggling once again.