The World of International Organizations

Lockdowns keeping fish off the hook

Fish for sale at a market in San Andrés Cholula, Mexico (AN/Giulian Frisoni)

Pandemic-caused disruptions to businesses and livelihoods are expected to cause a 1.3 percent decline in global aquaculture production and overall drop in fish supply, consumption and trade revenue for 2020, the Food and Agriculture Organization reported on Tuesday.

The hard-hit global fisheries and aquaculture industry may not get much relief this year as COVID-19 lockdowns continue amid 102 million infections and 2 million deaths worldwide, the U.N. agency said in a report. It noted the decline is all the more noticeable coming soon after a record 96.4 million tons of fish and 82.1 million tons of acquaculture production in 2018, mainly from China, India, Indonesia, Peru and Vietnam.

Average fish consumption grew to 20 kilos per person worldwide. But virus-related restrictions on fishing vessel crews and poor market conditions dampened the world’s fish catch, FAO said, while homebound consumers also shifted towards non-perishable foods along with packaged and frozen products.

FAO, which is based in Rome, recommended that governments keep borders open to minimize disruptions to food shipments and offer more support for women who produce, process and sell fish and are particularly vulnerable to losses of income.

“The pandemic has caused widespread upheaval in fisheries and aquaculture as production has been disrupted, supply chains have been interrupted and consumer spending restricted by various lockdowns,” said Maria Helena Semedo, FAO’s deputy director-general.

“Containment measures have provoked far-reaching changes, many of which are likely to persist in the long term,” she said. “The impact has been significant in developing countries, especially those with large informal sectors, where small-scale and artisanal workers and communities depend on fisheries for their food security, livelihoods. They have borne the brunt of restrictions.”


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