Fish markets avenues are being closed down as COVID-19 hits the industry. Photo: Oliver McBride
Europeche and the European Association of Fish Producers Organisation (EAPO) say are jointly committing to maintaining the supply of seafood and have called on the European Commission to implement a range of actions to help the EU fleet through the COVID-19 crisis.
In a letter to the Commission, both organisations list a range of existing and expected effects the current crisis will have on the industry including long distance fisheries being affected by possible crew quarantines, logistical difficulties for unloading frozen whole fish in European ports and, imports/exports by sea and air being effected.
One of the outcomes financially for the industry could be bankruptcy, insolvency, abandonment of the insurance companies sector; which the fleet cannot operate without coverage policies.
“If there is a strong economic impact mandatory coverage must be guaranteed,” says the letter.
On a commercial level the impact of CORVID-19 has exacerbated the already fragile shellfish market which has been under pressure since last autumn.
The letter says that “In Ireland, the nephrops, whitefish and brown crab fleets that rely heavily on exportation to the Chinese, Italian, Spanish and French markets have seen huge prices drops and market closures.
“This is also the case for other species in many countries. This led to the fishing activity being suspended and the whole seafood industry sector is affected.
“For pelagic fisheries, another issue is the availability of cold storage that is running low.
“The spread of the disease means that these consequences are only early ones and that a growing number of issues will appear in the coming days.
“Many EU countries are faced with a drop to about zero of all sales to restaurants and food services. No income with labour costs (fixed contracts) continuing.
“The species related to this market segment (high-priced niche market) have dropped with over 40% and a further reduction is expected.”
Some of the Europeche-EAPO proposals are to give fishermen the option to carry over more than the existing 10% of their fishing quotas to next year, establish a minimum price mechanism through POs and guarantee through state emergency plans that the logistic services can distribute seafood products at fair prices.
The full text of the letter can be read here.