Food Coalition

Fisheries and aquaculture

The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting the fisheries and aquaculture sector directly, by impacting the health of fishers and fish-workers, and indirectly by hindering their socio-economic development, with different implications for the livelihoods of men and women, boys and girls.

The prevent and control measures including movement restriction and lockdowns have affected fish trade, created changes in consumer demand, generated logistical problems around distribution channels and fishers’ access to markets, and have limited the availability of migrant workers, all factors on which the sector depends on to operate and thrive. These disruptions in the value-chain decrease the income of fishers and fish-workers and all those in fisheries’ dependent communities, and can instigate negative coping strategies including reducing the budget allocated for food, resulting in food insecurity and malnutrition; withdrawing children from school and increasing child labour; violating other core labour standards and breaching standards under the ILO’s 188 Work in Fishing Convention (C188), disempowering women as their income in post-harvest activities is also lost, and increasing the risks of gender-based violence. In many fishing communities, women traditionally face more problems than men, due to their poor access to technologies, finance for enterprise expansion, markets and transport, and their plight is worsened under the COVID-19.

The negative impacts of the pandemic are coupled with climate change that the sector has already experienced, which have reduced the available stock of fish and in turn affects their income. In parallel, being located at the water front, fishing-dependent communities are exposed to constant climate change impacts, such as flooding and hurricanes. Fishers’ general poverty situation hinders their capacity to adapt to these impacts, and therefore increases their vulnerability. Overall, the compounded disaster impacts of climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic difficult the accomplishment of the 2030 agenda and increased the risk of poverty,  food insecurity and malnutrition. 

Responding to the pandemic provides an opportunity to build back better, and help achieve better decent employment conditions and overall the 2030 Agenda within the sector, mainly SDG 1 (no poverty), 2 (no hunger) and 3 (gender equality). In particular, social protection systems and inclusive and gender-responsive policies and programs can help achieve socio-economic development and empowerment of most vulnerable, by integrating fishers and fish-wokers (both men and women), who are often invisible and excluded from decision-making, due to the informal and land-absent nature of their work.

Priority Areas of work: Economic Inclusion and Social Protection to Reduce Poverty
SDG: 1. No Poverty, 2. Zero Hunger, 5. Gender Equality, 8. Decent Work and Economic Growth, 10. Reduced Inequality, 13. Climate Action, 14. Life Below Water, 16. Peace and Justice Strong Institutions
Level: Global
Country: Barbados, Brazil, Colombia, Dominica, Fiji, Grenada, India, Indonesia, Malawi, Paraguay, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Tanzania, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia
Budget: USD 20 million

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