(New York) – The aquaculture industry estimates it is losing between $3.5 and $7 million per month. The figures compiled do not factor in losses in supply such as bait, fuel, and ice, according to data from the FAO.
The small-scale fisheries sector is trying to make ends meet, to continue fishing and provide locally-caught fresh fish, but it is experiencing great difficulties due to the closure of markets, eateries, limited storage facilities, falling wholesale fish prices and new sanitary requirements and physical distancing measures. Because of these difficulties, many activities have been reduced.
Data from NOAA and Food and the UN Agriculture Organization (FAO) was used in this article.
Commercial fishery jobs — some 18,220 around Virginia — includes harvesters, dealers, processors, importers, distributors, and retail, according to data from the NOAA Fisheries Economics of the United States report.
There are 1,944 commercially licensed watermen in Virginia, not including deckhands or other support staff on boats or working in aquaculture.
The industry is looking at at least a $76.3 million loss in the raw value of fish at dockside through June, based on figures for the same time period last year.
The lockdowns have resulted in logistical difficulties in seafood trade, particularly in relation to transportation. The salmon industry, in particular, suffered from increased air freight costs and cancellation of flights. The tuna industry has reported movement restrictions for professional seafarers, including at-sea fisheries observers, and marine personnel in ports, thereby preventing crew changes and repatriation of seafarers.
Some shortages of seeds, feeds and related aquaculture items (e.g. vaccines) have also been reported, due to restrictions on transportation and travel of personnel, with particular impacts on the aquaculture industry.
In aquaculture, there is growing evidence that unsold produce will result in an increase of live fish stocks and therefore higher costs for feeding as well as a greater risk of fish mortalities.
The pandemic has created in an unprecedented economic, social and health crisis with impacts on the most vulnerable groups including women (harvesters, processors and vendors), migrant fishers, fish workers, ethnic minorities and crew members. Many individuals are not registered, operate in the informal labour market with no labour market policies, including no social protection and no access to relief package/aid. These conditions might exacerbate the secondary effects of COVID-19, including poverty and hunger.