Nereus Program Principal Investigator Jack Kittinger (Conservation International/Arizona State University) and alumnus Elena Finkbeiner (Conservation International) are co-authors on a new publication in Coastal Management that looks at how the current COVID-19 pandemic is impacting small-scale and coastal fishing, including marketing, processing and fishing communities. The authors look into the (mostly) negative consequences the current COVID-19 pandemic is having on small-scale fishers (SSF) and communities, but also point out some positives that have resulted, such as increased local food movements in places like Hawaii where local fishers are helping supply food banks. They urge for a mobilization to help these vulnerable coastal fishing communities, specifically calling on governments, development organizations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), private business, and researchers to take actions toward SSFs during the pandemic, giving recommendations on how they can help. In addition to those short-term rapid responses, they conclude by also highlighting the need to “develop a coordinated response and support network to transform existing institutions, supply chains, and food systems in ways that improve conditions and resilience of the SSF sector” in the long-term.


The COVID-19 pandemic has rapidly spread around the world with extensive social and economic effects. This editorial focuses specifically on the implications of the pandemic for small-scale fishers, including marketing and processing aspects of the sector, and coastal fishing communities, drawing from news and reports from around the world. Negative consequences to date have included complete shut-downs of some fisheries, knock-on economic effects from market disruptions, increased health risks for fishers, processors and communities, additional implications for marginalized groups, exacerbated vulnerabilities to other social and environmental stressors, and increased Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated fishing. Though much of the news is dire, there have been some positive outcomes such as food sharing, the revival of local food networks, increases in local sales through direct marketing and deliveries, collective actions to safeguard rights, collaborations between communities and governments, and reduced fishing pressure in some places. While the crisis is still unfolding, there is an urgent need to coordinate, plan and implement effective short- and long term responses. Thus, we urge governments, development organizations, NGOs, donors, the private sector, and researchers to rapidly mobilize in support of small-scale fishers, coastal fishing communities, and associated civil society organizations, and suggest actions that can be taken by each to help these groups respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The above summary was adapted from the reference below:

Nathan J. Bennett, Elena M. Finkbeiner, Natalie C. Ban, Dyhia Belhabib, Stacy
D. Jupiter, John N. Kittinger, Sangeeta Mangubhai, Joeri Scholtens, David Gill & Patrick Christie (2020): The COVID-19 Pandemic, Small-Scale Fisheries and Coastal Fishing Communities. Coastal Management, DOI: 10.1080/08920753.2020.1766937. link.

Related Works