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The role of social protection in the recovery from COVID-19 impacts in fisheries and aquaculture

Food systems were severely hit by COVID-19 and the related restrictions to the movement of people and goods. In fisheries and aquaculture, the socio-economic effects of COVID-19 are manifold including changes in consumer demand, limited storage facilities, drop in fresh fish prices and stopping fishing operations.

Many individuals working in the sector operate in the informal market with no coverage from labour market policies – not registered in mandatory social security, paid less than the legal minimum wage, without a written contract, or self-employed. These individuals include small-scale fishers, migrant, fish workers, ethnic minorities, crew members, harvesters, gleaners and vendors – especially women (FAO, 2020a; 2020b), who were the most affected by the pandemic.

Social protection (SP) has been a key response that governments took to alleviate the socio-economic impacts of COVID-19 restrictions for fishery-dependent communities (FAO, 2020c).

Countries with strong social protection systems in place were the most flexible to respond rapidly by adapting social protection programmes to the impact of COVID-19. Countries with weak social protection systems were less able to tailor programmes to attend the sector which is characterized by high informality. Several people who lost their employment were also left without any access to income support.

The main type of social protection measures governments took to alleviate income losses in fisheries and aquaculture was temporary cash and in-kind transfers. The second most used type of programme was input subsidies.

See the full list of policy briefs related to COVID-19.

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