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December 14, 2020

A recent PNAS brief report by an international group of authors, including National CASC fish biologist Abby Lynch, found that the COVID-19 pandemic has had highly variable effects on inland fisheries across the world.

Two medium-sized fishing boats with their sails furled are tied up along a muddy beach, along with a small rowboat. Leafy trees
Fishing boats line a muddy beach of the Miri waterfront in Malaysia. (Credit: Alan Cressler, USGS)

Read the press release from the University of Florida (here) and the Story Map describing the article (here).

Inland fish populations are important sources of employment, food, and recreation for communities around the globe, making them highly vulnerable to human activities. A new study co-authored by NCASC biologist Abby Lynch,  explores how the disruption of modern life caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has affected inland fisheries globally. The authors administered a survey to fisheries experts all over the world asking if the pandemic has decreased, increased, or not altered pressure on their local inland fisheries. From the 437 experts in 79 countries who responded, the authors discovered that the pandemic’s influence was highly dependent on regional economic, cultural, and public health conditions. Fisheries seen as particularly important sources of jobs and food were generally perceived as facing increased pressure during the pandemic. In contrast, other areas saw reduced fisheries pressure linked to COVID shutdown measures such as decreased tourism and reduced access to commercial fisheries. Still other regions saw no change in fishing pressure, often because fishing there wasn’t limited by the pandemic. Altogether, two-thirds of respondents reported positive or neutral effects on fisheries from the pandemic, indicating that the observed reduced and altered fishing activities may benefit some ecosystems. These results highlight the impacts of COVID-19 on a valued natural resource, emphasizing the complex interplay between human communities and inland fisheries.

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