During a global pandemic, what happens to the world’s fishermen? Nonprofit group Future of Fish has plans for supporting fishing people and communities in this unprecedented time.
The spread and devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic has brought much of the world to a standstill. But small-scale fisheries around the world continue to depend on the oceans for their livelihood, and their communities’ food security – at a time when billions of people are confined to their homes, the global economy is in turmoil, supply chains have been disrupted, and they can no longer sell or distribute their fish as usual.
Since the COVID-19 crisis began, Future of Fish has quickly shifted from longer-term interventions to address the immediate pain points of their partners on the ground.
After spending a few weeks with ears to the ground, Future of Fish has announced a new suite of rapid-response interventions intended to alleviate immediate challenges and help fishers navigate this crisis.
‘Supporting fishers has always been our priority. Now, mid crisis, we continue our commitment to small-scale fishers, and to working in ways that aim to build resiliency and lay foundations for positive long-term change,’ said Momo Kochen, Director Global Programs.
Initiatives include supporting direct sales from fishermen to open air market vendors in Chile. This project utilises the changing dynamics of crisis and the willingness of partners including the fishing communities, ECOS, Feria y Mar and the South African based tech group Abalobi to rapidly test the benefits of digital platforms to connect supply chain nodes and facilitate transactions.
A public campaign to build demand for locally-caught seafood in Peru has been in progress. While Peru is known for its seafood, seafood sales have dropped substantially since the coronavirus crisis began. Working with partner NGOs, fishermen, chefs, and local media outlets, this campaign promotes seafood as a source of nutrition and a way to support Peruvian fishers – essential workers that help keep the nation fed and healthy.
Future of Fish is working on re-aligning supply chains and processes to increase the flow of fish under safe conditions from coastal landing sites in Peru directly to market centres and direct to customers. This project aims to help improve access to seafood for consumers, and secure continued income for fishers at a time when regular supply chains just aren’t working, with simple fixes such as Facebook ‘buy and sell’ groups and partnership building to aid logistics.
In Belize work is focused on activity with a local fishing co-operative to assess market options and secure funds to support operational updates to be COVID-compliant within their processing plant.
‘Supporting the fishers and communities that we work with is the heart of our mission,’ says Future of Fish executive director Peter Battisti.
‘They are on the frontlines, and their work is essential to building and maintaining sustainable fisheries now and in the future.’