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High Fuel Prices May Be Good for Oceans and Sea Turtles

Unless you live under a rock (and use one of those foot-powered Fred Flintstone cars), you’ve probably noticed that gas prices have gone up, way up.  Today we hear what may be one of several silver linings about the end of “cheap” energy–news that the increasing fuel costs may reduce overfishing in the world’s ocean.

See Longliners idle in port, citing fuel costs.

See fuel prices leading to less longlining.

In case you don’t know, recent studies are predicting a global fishery collapse by about 2045 (and I’m surprised that they predict it that far into the future).  Most scientists agree that the global ill of overfishing is at least partially due to overcapacity, a reality that is perpetuated by subsidies.

I have always felt that the WTO negotiations over the reduction of fishing subsidies hold great promise to cure overfishing.  Now, with high fuel prices, they hold even more importance.

How much do we spend on fuel subsidizing the decimation of our fish and turtles?

Estimated fuel subsidy for some of the developed countries

Country (US$/Litre)          Litres (million)       Total cost US$ millions/yr

Australia      0.20                   205                        41
France        *0.14                   673                       94
Greece        *0.20                   68                         14
Hong Kong  0.40                   155                        62
Japan            0.25                   4,459                    1,115
Spain           0.10                    1,259                    122
Taiwan1      0.09                    1,329                    120
USA            0.06                    3,010                    184

Total                                                                    1,752 million dollars!!!

Source: 

FUEL SUBSIDIES TO GLOBAL FISHERIES:
MAGNITUDE AND IMPACTS ON RESOURCE SUSTAINABILITY1
Ussif Rashid Sumaila1, Louise Teh1, Reg Watson1, Peter Tyedmers2 and Daniel Pauly1
1
Fisheries Centre, Aquatic Ecosystems Research Laboratory (AERL), University of British Columbia.
2202 Main Mall, Vancouver, BC., V6T 1Z4, Canada
2
School for Resource and Environmental Studies (SRES), Faculty of Management,
Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS, Canada