Agri Business

Seafood consumption declines steeply in US amidst Covid pandemic

Prashasti Awasthi Mumbai | Updated on November 24, 2020 Published on November 24, 2020

WHO says there have been no examples of the virus being transmitted through food   -  REUTERS

The consumption of seafood in the United States has declined steeply following the coronavirus pandemic in the country, as per the study conducted by UC Santa Barbara aquaculture and fisheries professor Halley Froehlich and colleagues.

The study called for targeted federal assistance to revive the seafood industry in the US.

"Seafood is part of the narrative that I would say doesn't get as much attention as something like agriculture," said Froehlich, an author of a study published in the journal Fish and Fisheries.

"And that certainly appears to be the case when we're looking at something like the CARES Act, the federal funding source specifically passed to provide economic relief in the U.S," he added.

Insufficient real-time data

The policymakers are in dearth of sufficient real-time data to figure out how the seafood industry is faring in the time of lockdowns and social distancing, said the study's lead author, University of Vermont ecologist Easton White.

One difficulty is that a lot of this data isn't released until months and years later. From the boat to the table, data is generated that must be gathered and processed before it gets released, he explained.

The researchers analyzed the data on the seafood industry from January to September 2020. They then estimated a 40 per cent decline in fresh seafood catches, a 37 per cent decline in imports, and a 43 per cent drop in exports relative to the same time last year.

The study mentioned that frozen seafood products "were generally less affected."

This comes despite the fact that there has been an uptick in seafood delivery and takeout, which has been picking up some -- but not all -- of the slack in restaurant demand.

"It's unclear to us the level of substitution and what it means in the long term, especially how people are consuming seafood at home," said Froehlich.

White said: “A lot of communities are dependent on fisheries. There are fisheries for tourism, livelihoods, and a lot of indigenous communities focus on fishing. And it's not just fishing but also fish processing, all the different people that are involved. If you have Covid popping up just when you're about to go fishing and make all the money you're going to have for the year, now you can't make any of that."

"If you have locally-sourced seafood, if you have aquaculture and fisheries, if you have small-scale and large-scale, this is a little more robust," White said.

The findings of the study were published in the journal EurekAlert!.

Suggested keywords: seafood, coronavirus, COVID-19, pandemic, health, SARS-CoV-2, US

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Published on November 24, 2020
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