Author(s): Conrad Cyler*
The COVID-19 pandemic has had profound effects on the aquatic environment, posing significant threats to aquatic biodiversity and the crucial food production systems it supports. This article examines the impacts of COVID-19 on the aquatic environment and highlights the importance of these disruptions for aquatic food production. The disruptions in fisheries and aquaculture due to lockdown measures and reduced demand have led to financial hardships for fishers and fish farmers, while fish stocks have experienced both positive and negative impacts. The increased usage of single-use plastics, personal protective equipment, and disinfectants during the pandemic has resulted in a surge of pollution and marine debris, endangering marine life and affecting the entire aquatic food chain. Furthermore, the improper disposal of wastewater and the use of disinfectants have compromised water quality, leading to habitat degradation and reduced productivity of fish and shellfish populations. The interplay between climate change and the pandemic exacerbates these challenges, weakening the resilience of aquatic ecosystems and compromising their ability to support sustainable and reliable fish and seafood production. Collaborative efforts are needed to prioritize sustainable management practices, enhance monitoring and enforcement, and transition towards a circular economy to mitigate the impacts and safeguard the health and sustainability of the aquatic environment and its vital role in aquatic food production.