With Commercial Boats Stuck in Harbor Because of COVID-19, Will Fish Bounce Back?
The commercial fishing industry has hit rough seas. In Croatia, fishing boats bob listlessly at the docks while 80 percent of the country's whitefish remains unsold. In France, safety rules designed to stop the spread of COVID-19, coupled with reduced demand because of unemployment and closed restaurants, have forced fleets to stay in port. Border closings prevent Greek fishermen from getting their fish to market. Satellite data and observations indicate activity is down as much as 80 percent in China and West Africa.
“The demand for fresh fish as well as the selling prices have collapsed,” the Mediterranean Advisory Council, a Rome-based industry group, announced in a March 23 report. Even where there is demand, such as for canned tuna in the U.S., travel constrains on crews, supplies and equipment keep the boats in the dock. “And some ports where the boats would offload or transship fish are simply closed to them,” Bill Gibbons-Fly, with the American Tunaboat Association said in a statement.