COVID-19 affects fish markets, says minister

Minister for Fisheries Semi Koroilavesau in Parliament. Picture: PARLIAMENT OF FIJI

Fish markets have been affected because of disruptions posed by COVID-19, says Minister for Fisheries Semi Koroilavesau.

“This includes access to fishing grounds, constant supply of raw materials, operations within processing facilities, transport and logistical support and the need to comply with COVID-19 restrictions,” he said in Parliament last week.

“Additionally, there have been adjustments made to crew movement, transportation, mandatory quarantine periods and the need for entry and exist swabs.

“All this has shifted the fishing sector’s ability to access fish, process it and transport the finished products to the export markets.

“On the other hand, over the past eight months, fish exports have been able to adjust and meet export market demands due to the stock pile of raw materials that were secured prior to the four and a half months of strict COVID-19 lockdown.

“Exporters have been able to utilise the two weekly flights to Los Angeles to send fresh tuna shipments, whilst frozen products are sent via sea freight to the European Union market.

“Based on five years of historical data projection and the implications of COVID-19, the following key areas need to be met in order to stimulate fish exports in the coming months and for the year 2022.

“Firstly, overcoming the second wave of COVID-19 is the most critical step in the process of boosting these exports. Once this is addressed, fishers can freely access fishing grounds and slowly build a stock needed to meet processing and export demands.

“Additionally, once COVID-19 restriction eases, Fiji would attract foreign fleets which now tranship their catch in the high seas back to our shores to provide the needed raw materials for our processing facilities.

“This further addresses logistical needs or shortage in shipment containers, cargo lines and the needs for frequent flights to our fresh sashimi markets.”

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