The Challenge of Food Security

The Challenge of Food Security

International Policy and Regulatory Frameworks

Edited by Rosemary Rayfuse and Nicole Weisfelt

This timely study addresses the pressing issue of food security through a range of interdisciplinary contributions, providing both scholarly and policy-making perspectives. It sets the discussion on food security within the little-studied context of its international legal and regulatory framework. The expert contributors explore the key issues from a development perspective and through the lens of existing governance and policy systems with a view to articulating how these systems can be made more effective in dealing with the roots of food insecurity.

Chapter 10: Food security, sustainability and trade distortions: fisheries subsidies and the WTO

Margaret Young

Subjects: development studies, law and development, environment, environmental law, law - academic, environmental law, international economic law, trade law, law and development, public international law


The consumption of fish provides a major source of protein for much of the world’s population. Government payments to the fishing sector have a significant effect on the economic and physical access to this limited resource. At times, such subsidies maintain domestic vessel capacity to harvest within and outside national coastal areas and thus provide food within a state. At other times, such subsidies are used to facilitate the fishing effort and the trade and exports of fish products, sometimes to the detriment of the food security of local populations. At all times, paying the fishing sector to build more boats threatens a resource that is already 80% fully or over exploited. Dwindling fish stocks are a major threat to the food security of all people, and the perverse incentives represented by fisheries subsidies are a part of the problem. At the very least, the continued subsidization of fishing industries may conflict with states’ implementation of the progressive realization of the right to adequate food in the context of national food security.

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