Future of Fish gives tips for seafood industry's post- COVID-19 recovery

Published on
May 4, 2022
Two workers at a shrimp processing facility in China.

San Francisco, California, U.S.A.-based Future of Fish has created a list of recommendations for the seafood industry, with the goal of helping it turn the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic into organization changes ensuring an environmentally sustainable, socially responsible, and economically viable wild-capture seafood industry.

Future of Fish is a non-profit organization that describes itself a "fishery transformation organization with a mission to end overfishing. Its recommendations come out of two complementary industry reports it recently released studying the impacts of the pandemic on the seafood industry, each identifying strategies for how seafood companies can navigate the new post-COVID landscape.

The first report, “Global Impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Seafood Industry,” focuses on synthesizing the complex conditions stemming from the pandemic. It provides an overview of the current landscape and changes in the seafood sector. The report establishes emergent trends in seafood, and the pandemic’s impacts on all parts of the industry.

“We hope this body of work will help the seafood sector to better understand the impacts and adjust for challenges and embrace opportunities through the continuing pandemic,” Future of Fish Director of Discovery Marah Hardt, the lead author of both reports, said.

The pandemic brought major economic, social, and environmental changes to the seafood industry, the report found. Directly related to the seafood industry were impacts to seafood worker health and safety due to crowded conditions onboard vessels and in processing facilities. Larger issues arose as food insecurity increased for coastal communities, as well as due to fisheries science and enforcement being impeded, which in turn contributed to an upswing in illegal fishing activities. And major disruptions to shipping and markets have served to disrupt supply chains.

The seafood industry responded to these challenges by expanding into direct sales techniques. Future of Fish's second report, “Direct-to-Consumer Strategies for Seafood,” details some of these direct-to-consumer (D2C) business models and the application of new sales mechanisms.

The D2C came into use as an initial coping response starting with dockside sales that grew to seafood D2C models that have become more sophisticated and diverse through the pandemic, Future of Fish found. Currently, these D2C models have been launched by every node in the seafood supply chain and range from small companies servicing local markets to large e-commerce enterprises with national or international reach. The report categorizes the different types of D2C that exist, and evaluates each for respective strengths and weaknesses, as well as the enabling conditions that are needed for that model to thrive and the barriers to scale and growth.

These two reports can be found as a free download on the Future of Fish website under the resources tab.

Photo courtesy of chinahbzyg/Shutterstock

Contributing editor/Reporting from Hawaii, U.S.A.

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