The Synergistic Impacts of Anthropogenic Stressors and COVID-19 on Aquaculture: A Current Global Perspective
The rapid, global spread of COVID-19, and the measures intended to limit or slow its propagation, are having major impacts on diverse sectors of society. Notably, these impacts are occurring in the context of other anthropogenic-driven threats including global climate change. Both anthropogenic stressors and the COVID-19 pandemic represent significant economic challenges to aquaculture systems across the globe, threatening the supply chain of one of the most important sources of animal protein, with potential disproportionate impacts on vulnerable communities. A web survey was conducted in 47 countries in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic to assess how aquaculture activities have been affected by the pandemic, and to explore how these impacts compare to those from climate change.
A positive correlation between the effects of the two categories of drivers was detected, but analysis suggests that the pandemic and the anthropogenic stressors affect different parts of the supply chain. The immediate measurable reported losses varied with aquaculture typology (land vs. marine, and intensive vs. extensive). A comparably lower impact on farmers reporting the use of integrated multitrophic aquaculture (IMTA) methods suggests that IMTA might enhance resilience to multiple stressors by providing different market options under the COVID-19 pandemic.
Results emphasize the importance of assessing detrimental effects of COVID-19 under a multiple stressor lens, focusing on areas that have already locally experienced economic loss due to anthropogenic stressors in the last decade. Holistic policies that simultaneously address other ongoing anthropogenic stressors, rather than focusing solely on the acute impacts of COVID-19, are needed to maximize the long-term resilience of the aquaculture sector.
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