Figure 2: Spatial distribution of marine capture fisheries landed value by decade Source: Sumaila et al. (2007)
The challenge is that once subsidies are provided they become entitlements, which makes them politically difficult to remove. Only concerted action by groups such as civil society organisations, international bodies and governments can bring about the removal of such subsidies. Also, one strategy that may help is to keep the amount of the subsidy within the fishing community but divert it from increasing overfishing to enhancing fish stocks. This can be achieved by converting bad subsidies into good ones, using bad subsidies to fund transition programmes to help fishers move to greener fishing approaches and other non-fishing activities to support their livelihoods.
Small-scale fisheries A key issue along any coast is that of the local small-scale fisheries (SSF), which often provide crucial food supplies, sustain regional economies and support the social and cultural values of the areas, but are threatened as pressures on coastal areas are growing. This poses what is undoubtedly a major socioeconomic challenge: how to balance current and future needs for fishery resources.
There are many definitions of small-scale but such fisheries are usually characterised by being relatively more labour-intensive and less capital-intensive, more tied to coastal communities and less mobile (Berkes et al. 2001; Charles 2001; Pauly 2006). Other terms sometimes used for these fisheries are artisanal (versus industrial), coastal or inshore.
While all fisheries face a range of challenges, for SSF many of the challenges are related to factors that are external to the fisheries per se but within the broader social-ecological system (McConney and Charles 2009). These include (1) negative impacts of industrial and foreign fleets, depleting coastal fish stocks, and in some cases destroying coastal fishing gear; (2) degradation of coastal environments and fish habitat, through land-based sources of marine pollution, development of urban areas, shrimp farming, tourism, mangrove extraction, etc., leading in each case to reduced fish stocks; (3) infrastructure challenges, such as limitations on transportation of fish products; and (4) global forces,