Covid-19 and small-scale fisheries

The small town of Trinity in Newfoundland, Canada. By M. Leis

The impacts of Covid-19 can be overwhelming. Lock-downs across the world are putting all of us in different, increasingly trying situations. Similarly, small-scale fisheries are facing a growing number of challenges. How exactly are they facing these challenges? And who is there to support them? Physical distancing and quarantine measures are changing the way people interact as part of the far-reaching efforts to stop the spreading of Covid-19. The effects on small-scale fisheries are felt throughout the entire fish chain, from harvesting to processing and marketing.

In this uncharted territory, how are small-scale fishers and their communities coping? What issues are they currently facing? How have they responded to those issues? Who has been involved in providing support to small-scale fishing communities? There are many concerns and challenges as small-scale fishers deal with closed markets, fishing restrictions, and in some cases, a lack of proper support.

Hoping to find answer to these questions, TBTI and OFI are gathering news stories about cooperation and solutions that small-scale fishers and their partners are developing in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic. We are doing this with the help of a multidisciplinary team of international students from Memorial University, who have joined our team as part of our Covid-19 Job Initiative.

Written by: Vanessa Eyng and Mirella Leis, Memorial University

Right here, right now: Are Canadian small-scale fisheries getting the support they need?

May 15, 2020

On April 25, the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced an emergency funding relief for fish and seafood processors. “We’re giving more money to processors, so they can purchase personal protective equipment for workers, adapt to health protocols and support other social distancing measures," Trudeau said. While the attention to the fisheries sector is encouraging, the measures do not benefit fish harvesters, who are still suffering from uncertainty. “It’s an incredible amount of stress and worry that could be somewhat alleviated if our federal government would step in and help like they’ve done for the processing companies and in other industries,” says harvester Dennis Chaulk of Charlottetown, Newfoundland.

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Small-scale fishing community mobilization in Brazil amidst multi-faceted challenges

May 15, 2020

Oil spill, fishery closure season and Covid-19: A sequence of big challenges for small-scale fishers in Brazil

When lockdown measures took place in March, fishers were already in a delicate situation due to several months of low income. The country’s small-scale fisheries had already been hit hard by a major oil spill that affected most of the Brazilian coastline. This environmental catastrophe was followed by a period of sustained low income for small-scale fishers, because of the annual closure season for most commercially important species. Needless to say, the Covid-19 pandemic added another challenge in the ongoing crisis for small-scale fisheries in Brazil. Because small-scale fishers have not found support from measures issued by the government, and in order to overcome these multi-faceted challenges, they have instead organized themselves to ensure their livelihoods and to fight for social justice.

End of the fishing day in Pontal do Paraná, Brazil by Mirella Leis, 2014
High stakes: Fishers health and safety during Covid-19 times

May 1, 2020

How has the Covid-19 pandemic affected the health and safety of fishers and their communities at sea and on land?

The challenges of the working aboard a fishing vessel are further exacerbated by the current Covid-19 pandemic, which brings about changes in regulations based on physical distancing recommendations, as well as changes to the fishing season, which is in many cases postponed indefinitely. What does this mean to fish harvesters and their health and safety at sea? How will the effects of operational health and safety measures be reflected in markets and in fishing communities?

Small-scale fishing boat in Newfoundland, Canada ©Mirella Leis copy
Fish chain interrupted: How Covid-19 affects markets and trades

May 1, 2020

What can news stories from around the world tell us about the effects of Covid-19 on small-scale fishers' access to markets?

Despite being the main drivers of the global food chain, small-scale fishers or farmers usually find themselves in a marginalized and disadvantaged position. The physical isolation measures and lockdown restrictions have further exacerbated their situation, forcing them either to halt or alter their fishing operations. Combined with other difficulties in marketing, transportation, and trading especially for those depending on export markets, the threats to livelihoods and the food supply chain are real. 

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Sailing in the sea of uncertainty

April 15, 2020

Small-scale fisheries, now more then ever, need strong actions and creative solutions, in order to access resources and maintain their income during and after this crisis. Starting this week, we will be posting stories about the effects of Covid-19 on small-scale fisheries as well as efforts and solutions being implemented to support them. We will emphasize whether small-scale fisheries are receiving the kind of support they need, compared to other sectors, as part of the Blue Justice for Small-Scale Fisheries.

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Share your story

Small-scale fisheries, now more then ever, need strong actions and creative solutions, in order to access resources and maintain their income during and after this crisis. Starting this week, we will be posting stories about the effects of Covid-19 on small-scale fisheries as well as efforts and solutions being implemented to support them. We will emphasize whether small-scale fisheries are receiving the kind of support they need, compared to other sectors, as part of the Blue Justice for Small-Scale Fisheries.

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A look across the globe

In the recent months, there's been a flurry of articles written about the the effect of Covid-19 on the fisheries, including small-scale fisheries. We have been gathering these article and have included them in our growing news collection.

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How are organizations responding to Covid-19?

Tracking stories from around the world about the kind of responses being developed by the organizations and networks that support small-scale fishing in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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