Fiscal reforms for sustainable marine fisheries governance: Delivering the SDGs and ensuring no one is left behind
Governments adopted Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) aimed at ushering in a new era of sustainable development where ‘no one is left behind.’ They include a specific goal — SDG 14 — to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources. While policymakers can use a number of legal, regulatory and economic tools to do so, there should be more focus on harnessing fiscal instruments such as taxes, subsidies and conditional transfers to provide the necessary incentives. Provided these approaches strike an appropriate balance between economic, social and ecological considerations, they could play an important role in making SDG 14 a reality. It must be noted that fiscal instruments or reforms do not operate in a vacuum. Their effective implementation requires adequate institutional frameworks to be in place. It is argued that (i) building or strengthening both technical and institutional capacity for fiscal administration; (ii) enhancing compliance through either (or a combination of) incentives and/or punitive measures; (iii) promoting transparency and accountability to win legitimacy and thereby cooperation from all stakeholders involved; and (iv) clearly defining use and access rights of marine and coastal resources either by recognising traditional or customary rights or through a participatory and equitable approach are very critical for an effective implementation of fiscal instruments their reforms.