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Here's Why You're Having Trouble Finding Fresh Seafood Right Now

One of the effects of the pandemic has been the impact it has had on fish markets.

It's no secret that many aspects of life have been greatly affected because of the pandemic, and the food industry has not been immune. If you've had some trouble finding fresh seafood during your shopping trips lately or don't see any seafood options on the takeout menu of your favorite local restaurants, there's a reason for that. See, the fish industry has been greatly struggling and you might not as much access to fresh seafood right now.

So what exactly is going on?

Unfortunately, small fishing boats and fish markets have taken the biggest hit, with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) reporting that these are the areas worst affected by coronavirus' impact, economically speaking.

See, supply chains all over the world have been severely impacted during this time, but small boats especially took the biggest hit globally, which means the markets they supply are left uncertain. More than 90% of small-scale fishing boats—which if you think about it is practically all of them—in parts of the Mediterranean and the Black Sea have had to completely stop fishing because of markets simply not operating, and prices plummeting on top of that.

It's not only the lack of local markets being open that is impacting fish sales, but the fact that restaurants, hotels, and catering have overall halted operations as well. This means there are fewer businesses open and offering to buy the fish. This has also sadly led to an increase in waste as well.

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In San Diego, fishermen can't sell their fish to restaurants as many are still closed. While there are establishments open and offering takeout only, seafood isn't necessarily a popular takeout option, so the fishermen have nowhere to sell their fish. Selling directly to customers at small markets is the key to keep business going, but that as we know is an uphill battle.

As Kathy Strangman, the owner of San Diego's Seafood Inc. explained, her company sources and supplies seafood to restaurants every week. And we're talking tens of thousands of pounds here. But when coronavirus hit back in March, her business dropped drastically—to just hundreds of pounds of seafood. She couldn't afford to stay open.

"Horrendous…It was just so humiliating. We're a small business, like a family, and having to give [my employees] that packet with the unemployment information. It was really hard because I think they knew it was coming, but not that quickly," she said.

It will take time for the fish industry, and those of the smaller fish markets, to bounce back. But with businesses starting to reopen, we can only hope the effects are felt sooner rather than later.

Jennifer Maldonado
Jennifer Maldonado is a senior editor at Eat This, Not That!, specializing in food and health content. Read more about Jennifer
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