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How is COVID-19 affecting the Aquaculture Sector

Aquaculture Sector at Risk, Yet Fish is Safe to Eat (FAO)

Fish and fish products that are highly dependent on international trade suffered quite early in the development of the pandemic from the restrictions and closures of global markets, whereas fresh fish and shrimp supply chains were severely impacted by the closure of the food-service sectors (e.g. hotels, restaurants and catering facilities, including school and work canteens). The processing sector also faced closures due to reduced consumer demand. The lockdowns implemented by many countries have resulted in logistical difficulties in the seafood trade, particularly in relation to transportation and border restrictions.

Some shortages of seed, feed, healthcare products and related aquaculture items have also been reported, due to restrictions on production, transportation, and travel of personnel, which impacted the aquaculture industry.

In aquaculture, there is growing evidence that unsold produce will result in an increase of live fish stocks and therefore higher costs for feeding as well as a greater risk of fish mortalities.

There are still many uncertainties ahead, particularly with regard to the duration and severity of the pandemic, but a prolonged market downturn is likely to introduce long-term transformations to the sector.

Fish and fish products are a key component of a healthy diet and are safe to eat. Misleading perceptions in some countries have led to decreased consumption of these products. Yet, coronavirus cannot infect aquatic animals (fish, shrimp, crab and molluscs), therefore these animals do not play an epidemiological role in spreading COVID-19 to humans.

While there is no evidence of viruses that cause respiratory illnesses are transmitted via aquaculture food products but can become contaminated if handled by people who are infected with COVID-19 or who are not following good hygiene practices. For this reason, it is important to emphasize the need to implement robust hygiene practices to protect aquaculture products from contamination from COVID-19.

Corona Virus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a respiratory disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. It has spread from China to many other countries around the world, including India. Depending on the severity of COVID-19ís international impacts, outbreak conditions - including those rising to the level of a pandemic - can affect all aspects of daily life, including travel, trade, tourism, agriculture, food supplies and financial markets.

It is important for all employers to plan now for COVID-19, to reduce the impact of COVID-19 outbreak conditions on aquaculture, aqua farmers, customers, and the public. Major aquaculture activities, like hatchery seed production, feed production, grow-out farming and marketing are included in the advisory. This guidance is intended for awareness and planning purposes. Farmers should use this planning guide to help identify potential risk levels in aquaculture farms and to determine any appropriate control measures to implement.