Whereas most experts agree that subsidies paid for the construction and operation of fishing vessels increase capacity and therefore put additional stress on the resources, the effects on trade are less clear. It can be assumed that subsidies have an effect on trade whenever they have an impact on the volume of fisheries products moving across international frontiers or on the product prices. But very little research has in fact been carried out on possible trade distortions caused by subsidies, and few attempts to quantify them have been undertaken.
The only cases so far in international trade related to subsidies and fish exports stem from aquaculture, in which domestic producers have convinced their own governments to take action against purportedly subsidised products imported from abroad. With rising aquaculture production and trade we will surely see more of these cases in the future.
The question of subsidies in fisheries has recently been put firmly on the international agenda. Studies by the WTO, APEC, OECD as well as FAO are focusing on the use of subsidies in fisheries and the possible negative consequences on sustainability and trade.