Volume 73

The importance of subsistence fisheries during the COVID-19 pandemic: a case study from queen conch in The Bahamas

Higgs, N.
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Date: November, 2020

Pages: 30-31

Event: Proceedings of the Seventy-Three Annual Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute

City: Virtual

Country: Virtual


Subsistence and artisanal fisheries have played a vital role in sustaining human populations of the Caribbean for hundreds of years, particularly in times of hardship. The onset of the coronavirus pandemic earlier this year led to a dramatic rise in unemployment throughout the region and fears around food- security. Subsistence fishing was one of the few activities permitted during the emergency curfew restrictions, leading many to turn to the marine environment for food. To better understand this phenomenon, I undertook a study of conch landings at previously documented sites near the Cape Eleuthera Institute in The Bahamas during the weeks following the implementation of COVID-19 lockdown. A sharp increase in small scale fishing activity was evident at these sites and I will present weekly conch landings data with an analysis of fishing activity and size structure of the catch. I discuss what this data can tell us about the role of subsistence fisheries during the pandemic and the degree to which we can rely on the marine environment as a “natural-insurance” in the case of future emergencies.

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