A large proportion of the fisheries subsidies are harmful, since they contribute to the overcapacity of the global fishing fleet. The global fishing fleet is estimated to be up to 250 percent larger than is required in order to exploit the world’s fish resources in an environmentally sustainable manner.
Subsidies to the fishing sector are not only a threat to the marine environment and fisheries resources, they also cause problems for local communities in developing countries. Most developing countries do not have the ability to subsidise their fishing sector in the way that the EU does, for example, which distorts global competition and trade. Moreover, many countries, including EU Member States, support the direct or indirect export of capacity to other countries’ waters. This can take the form of joint ventures, when a country sets up a deal or merges with a national fishing company, and thereby changes flag in order to access their fishing grounds. It can also take the form of third-country access agreements, where a country buys fishing rights in other countries’ waters. In both cases the fish resources are exploited by economic interests outside of the country, which decreases the availability of resources and the development potential for the local population.