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This Guide has been developed to assist in studying fisheries subsidies. It aims at being an instrument for studies covering all different types of subsidies in all sectors of the fisheries industry and attempts to provide a flexible technical tool that can be used by those who prepare reports and studies on subsidies in the fisheries sector according to their specific needs.

As such, the Guide does not provide a rigid definition of subsidies but offers a framework for how to define fisheries subsidies. The Guide does not take any position with regard to whether a subsidy is “good” or “bad”. Subsidies can be either positive, i.e., increasing profits of the industry, or negative, i.e., decreasing profits, but the analysis of the link between this impact and the eventual effect on resources and trade is beyond the scope of the Guide. Hence, the Guide does not cover the analysis of the effects of subsidies on resources, fisheries and trade but aims at assisting in collecting and organising the data on which these analyses could be based. This covers defining, classifying and quantifying fisheries subsidies as well as investigating the processes by which subsidies are provided.

Figure 1: Scope of the Guide

The Guide is based on the main principles agreed on in the FAO Expert Consultation on Economic Incentives and Responsible Fisheries, held in Rome on 28 November - 1 December 2000[3]. In early 2002, a preliminary draft Guide was prepared, based on available literature and information. This draft was thereafter tested by the carrying out of prototype studies in four different countries and it was then revised incorporating the experience from the test studies. The definitions and methodologies presented in the Guide have thus been developed by combining available theoretical knowledge with practical experience.

However, the subject of fisheries subsidies is vast and complex and the work carried out so far has not been sufficient for dealing with all aspects and issues that it includes. Therefore, this Guide should not be considered a final product but rather a flexible document that may need to be revised as more experience on how to study fisheries subsidies is acquired.

[3] See FAO 2000a.

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