Overfishing is the greatest threat to shark stocks in the world's oceans. And yet this is precisely what is being promoted every year with billions of dollars in the form of harmful subsidies.

Fight against harmful fisheries subsidies

Almost 40 % of shark and ray species are already classified as threatened. And only recently, a study on pelagic shark and ray species showed that their populations have declined by as much as 70 % in the last 50 years.

The main reason for this is massive overfishing. Not only the direct fishing of sharks as target fish, but above all the by-catch, pose a major problem here. Therefore, the fate of sharks is directly linked to large-scale industrial fishing, such as for tuna. And although more than a third of the world's fish stocks are already overfished, around 22 billion dollars in harmful subsidies continue to be poured into the fishing industry every year. Harmful because they further increase fishing capacity and thus further exacerbate overfishing. Fisheries are promoted which would not be profitable without these subsidies and which, moreover, are not sustainable. Especially deep-sea fishing is strongly affected by this. This closes the circle and explains the massive decline of sharks, which are mainly found in the high seas.

Finally, in 2015, world leaders recognized the damage that harmful subsidies cause to fish stocks and the marine environment when they adopted the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a blueprint for achieving a better and more sustainable future for all. SDG target 14.6 requires governments to reach a new agreement within the World Trade Organization (WTO) to eliminate harmful subsidies. The deadline for this was 2020, and as of January 2021, this agreement is overdue.

Sharkproject has therefore set itself the task of working together with a wide range of partners in various bodies around the world in order to achieve a rethink and a new regulation of these subsidies and to increase pressure on the decision-makers. One of these networks or campaigns is “STOP FUNDING OVERFISHING”. Together with 180 organizations, in 2020 we made a demand to the World Trade Organization (WTO) to comply with SDG 14.6 and reach a new agreement on fisheries subsidies. To keep up the pressure on those responsible, but also to inform the public about the issue, campaigns are regularly launched on various platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

Although the negotiations have not reached a conclusion in 2020 after more than two decades, we remain optimistic. The negotiations have progressed further than ever before, and an agreement is possible soon.

Background information


  • Educate and inform the public
  • Implementation of the targets of SDG 14.6
  • Re-regulation of fisheries subsidies
  • Prohibition of harmful subsidies

Location and duration

  • Worldwide network
  • no time limit

Project history


Call on the WTO to implement the requirements of SDG 14.6.


Digital campaign accompanying the WTO negotiations.