Fish markets have been affected due to disruption caused by COVID-19, Fisheries Minister Semi Koroilavesau said.
“This includes access to fishing grounds, constant supply of raw materials, operations at processing facilities, transport and logistical support and the need to comply with COVID-19 restrictions,” he said. he told parliament last week.
âIn addition, adjustments have been made to crew movements, transportation, mandatory quarantine periods and the need to enter and use swabs.
âAll of this has changed the ability of the fishing industry to access, process, and transport finished products to export markets.
âOn the other hand, over the past eight months, fish exports have been able to adjust and meet export market demands due to the stock of raw materials that was secured before the four and a half month lockdown. strict COVID-19.
âExporters have been able to use the two weekly flights to Los Angeles to send shipments of fresh tuna, while the frozen products are sent by sea freight to the European Union market.
âBased on five years of projection of historical data and the implications of COVID-19, the following key areas must be respected in order to boost fish exports in the coming months and for the year 2022.
âFirst, overcoming the second wave of COVID-19 is the most critical step in the process of boosting these exports. Once this problem is resolved, fishermen can freely access fishing grounds and slowly build up a stock needed to meet processing and export demands.
âIn addition, once the COVID-19 restriction is relaxed, Fiji would attract foreign fleets who now transship their catches from the high seas to our shores to provide the raw materials needed for our processing facilities.
“This further addresses the logistical needs or shortage of shipping containers, freight lines and the need for frequent flights to our fresh sashimi markets.”