Covid-19 Effects on Artisanal Fisheries and Seafood Vendors at Local Fish Markets in Chile

In March 2020 Chile entered phase 4 of COVID-19, which refers to the existence of viral circulation and community spread of the disease. Since then, a series of measures have been implemented such as physical distancing, border closures, school or university closures, curfews, quarantines, and others. As of September 17, 2020, according to the Chilean government, the number of people infected reached 441,150, with a total of 12,142 deaths. This ranks Chile in sixth position in South America after Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Mexico and Argentina in terms of total cases and deaths, and fourth in terms of deaths per million inhabitants in the region after Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador.

According to the FAO, the fishing sector has been affected by changes in consumer demand, market access, and logistical problems related to transportation and border restrictions. Similarly, the FAO indicates that COVID-19 impacts will have a detrimental effect on the livelihoods of fishers, as well as on the food security of populations that are highly dependent on seafood.

To better understand the different impacts of the pandemic on sectors linked to small-scale fishing and the commercialization of products, the organization Comunidad y Biodiversidad A. C. (COBI) in Mexico, produced a series of reports to learn about the economic and social impacts of the pandemic on fishing organizations in the country. Adding to this body of knowledge for Latin American impacts of COVID on fisheries, consultants from the Federación Interregional de Pescadores Artesanales del Sur (FIPASUR) and the organization Future of Fish joined forces to conduct a survey among participants in the artisanal fishing sector in multiple regions of Chile. This work also included a poll of fish vendors in the Metropolitan Region, who are major participants in the marketing of fresh products from the small artisanal sector in Chile.