Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)


The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is an international economic organization. It aims to stimulate economic progress and world trade, and to promote policies that will improve the economic and social well-being of people around the world.

OECD has 34 member countries, including Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom, and the United States.

The OECD also works closely with Russia, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, and South Africa.


Decision-making is done by the OECD Council. The Council is comprised of one representative per member country and a representative of the European Commission. The Council meets regularly and decisions are taken by consensus.

The Council has the power to adopt decisions and recommendations. End products that the Council adopts are based on analysis and studies by the Secretariat and include the following:

  • International Decisions: legally binding on the parties
  • Decisions: legally binding on all those Member countries which do not abstain at the time they are adopted
  • Recommendations: not legally binding, but there is an expectation that member countries will do their utmost to fully implement a recommendation
  • Arrangements and Understandings: not legally binding, but their implementation is monitored
  • Declarations: not formal acts of the organization and not intended to be legally binding, but their application is generally monitored by the responsible OECD body

The work mandated by the Council is carried out by the OECD Secretariat. Representatives of member countries also meet in committees to propose ideas and review progress in specific areas.

Committees carry out extensive studies which are expected to lead to the implementation of solutions to common problems in member countries. Publications are the primary way OECD disseminates its intellectual output. Publications include books, reports, statistics, working papers, and reference materials.

Discussions from OECD committees can also evolve into formal agreements, standards and models, recommendations, or guidelines.

The most relevant committee is the Committee for Fisheries, which carries out analytical work on a wide range of issues related to management, resource conservation, trade and sustainable development. The Committee for Fisheries is a policy forum for exchange of views and experiences on economic and fisheries policy issues. It meets twice annually (in the spring and fall) and occasionally holds ad hoc technical meetings.

Also potentially relevant to the issue of fisheries subsidies is the Trade Committee and the Environment Policy Committee.

Any significant action on fisheries subsidies would probably need to be initiated in a Committee(s) before being brought up to the Council for adoption of a product. This would likely take several years to put in place, and require attention (and endorsements) at the member country level prior to the issue being brought to the Council level.


The OECD has extensive institutional knowledge on fisheries subsidies. The OECD has conducted numerous studies and analyses on fisheries subsidies. The Committee for Fisheries produced inventories of financial support and economic assistance to the fishing sector in OECD countries.

The OECD also undertook a systematic effort to define and measure government financial transfers to the fisheries sector in member countries. The recommendations issued by the OECD from its fisheries subsidies work primarily targeted the design and implementation of plans for rebuilding fisheries and for decommissioning schemes in the fishing sector.

While the fishing sector is relatively small in many OECD economies, often accounting for less than one percent of GDP and a small fraction of the workforce, it accounts for a high proportion of employment and income in coastal regions. Many OECD governments have reconsidered the extent and type of subsidies they provide in consideration of reforms to shift towards more sustainable and responsible fisheries.

What could the OECD produce/do on fisheries subsidies?

A high-level position paper by the Committee for Fisheries (possibly an updated version of previous recommendations on pathways to reform), with broad support from civil society, would be a strong tactic towards obtaining an outcome from the OECD Council, such as an international agreement, decision, or recommendation.

The following are some other activities the OECD could undertake:

  • The OECD could institute a new or updated study on fisheries subsidies. It could also conduct a survey of fisheries subsidies amongst its membership.
  • The OECD could create a standard or best practices guide on the application of fisheries subsidies reform.
  • The OECD could provide guidelines and incentives to help countries implement their own plans to discipline harmful subsidies in their domestic fisheries.


OECD Headquarters
2, rue André Pascal
75775 Paris Cedex 16

Tel.: +33 1 45 24 82 00
Fax: +33 1 45 24 85 00


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