Impact of Coronavirus on Fishing

16th March 2020 in Domestic Fisheries Policy, Europe / Common Fisheries Policy, Shellfish

Dialogue has begun between the NFFO and the Government on how best to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on the fishing industry over its duration.

Impact of Coronavirus on Fishing
Beshlie Pool South Devon & Channel Shellfishermen

The market for fish and shellfish has already been badly affected, with fears of worse to come:

  • An early sector to feel the consequences of the virus is the crab market, which had responded to increasing demand from China and which has now seen a dramatic fall in price, as restrictions bite
  • Inventories of frozen nephrops were approaching capacity before the virus struck and saturation point will inevitably impact on buyers’ behaviours on the 1st hand market
  • Whitefish prices are also softening as buyers face logistical difficulties and travel restrictions triggered by the coronavirus
  • Seasonal fisheries such as cuttlefish are likely to be impacted by restrictions in Italy and France, particularly closures in the restaurant sector
  • There are concerns about how fish processing units will continue to operate if the workforce is impacted directly by the virus, or by efforts to self-isolate
  • Individual judgements on self-isolation will be made by fishermen but the impacts will be felt across whole crews and fishing businesses

In these unique and unprecedented circumstances, individual fishing businesses and producer organisations are taking their own steps to mitigate impacts by arranging shorter trips, staggering and planning landings, reducing quantities landed, in order to avoid flooding the market and triggering a price collapse.

Science

The production of the scientific advice for next year’s quotas has been affected and shorter, more summary advice than that we have become used to will emerge to inform the autumn management decisions – this time with the UK participating for the first time as an independent coastal state.

Support

We are in a highly dynamic situation. As the virus spreads, new impacts are becoming manifest. Evolving regulatory responses and market reactions, mean that it will be necessary to understand exactly what is happening in a rapidly changing situation.

This is the context within which the form and shape of a government support package will be discussed, with a focus on keeping the sector viable during this, temporary but undoubtedly severe shock.