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In 1992 FAO’s Fisheries Department published Marine Fisheries and the Law of the Sea: A Decade of Change. The report draws the attention to subsidies apparently provided to capture fisheries world-wide. The amount of resources made available to the sector was large. During the years that followed "fishery subsidies" became a much debated issue internationally and in 2001 the World Trade Organization Ministerial meeting in Doha singled them out as an issue to review in the forthcoming negotiations of the WTO Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures.

The discussion of fishery subsidies has shown that the subject is complicated and that there is considerable confusion both about what actually are subsidies, and about their effects and impacts.

This document is meant to facilitate future discussions of fishery subsidies by analysing the debate that has taken place during the last decade, and by explaining the subsidy concept and its application in fisheries. In addition an attempt is made to provide an historical context by giving an account of their use during the last four decades. There was not enough time to obtain a worldwide coverage for the review. So it focuses on countries for which information was found easily. It is clear that more work needs to be done to obtain a balanced, global view, of the history of subsidy use in fisheries.

I would like to thank Professor Schrank for having agreed to write this document and for his unstinting collaboration and tenacity in finalizing the document.

Ulf Wijkström
Fishery Development Planning Service
FAO Fisheries Department

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