All across California, we are hearing the impacts of the Coronavirus on seafood sales. California seafood produced by aquaculture is primary a live market industry to ensure the freshest and highest quality products to consumers. With this economic downturn and lack of sales, our farmers are being forced to lay off significant numbers of staff just to keep afloat.
For fish and some shellfish growers, this puts significant stress on life support systems not just for the employees, but also for the fish. Critical elements of life support systems in aquaculture have farmers concerned over the now uncertainty of feed, oxygen and fuel deliveries. What are the additional costs (eg. labor, feed, energy) to keep fish longer? How does this impact the harvest plan on the farm? What does a farmer do when it is time to spawn fish? Will there be tanks and ponds available when those new fish are ready to be moved out of the hatcheries if the previous stocks have not been moved to market? Will there be enough larval oysters to support our California industry if hatcheries in other states are severely impacted? It is certain the economic ramifications of Coronavirus will likely have long-lasting impacts on all of our food systems.
Aquaculture products supply a significant part of the seafood we eat. Ask your grocer where your seafood originates, and if able, support your California and US seafood industries. Otherwise we will become even more reliant than we already are on other nations to meet our dietary needs.