COVID-19 pandemic's impact on small scale fishermen in Cyprus

Across the EU, the work of fishermen has been classed as essential. As the crisis unfolds with the COVID-19 pandemic, small scale fishermen struggle to continue to bring food to our tables and to earn their income and survive in the profession. The lockdown and the demanding sanitary measures have closed markets which has create huge negative impacts in the fishing sector all over Europe.

In Cyprus the unpleasant developments of the COVID-19 are threatening the viability of the Cypriot fishing sector. The closure of hotels and restaurants, especially fish taverns, as well as the reduction in consumer purchasing power have greatly reduced the demand for fishery products and a significant reduction in prices. As a result, fishing trips and, consequently, the income of professional fishermen have been greatly reduced. This means that “two good fishing months” of March and April were lost for the fishermen, which has had a massive impact on the Cyprus small scale fishing sector.

An example can be given for the situation in the Zygi fishing community. The local market which sells fish to restaurants was closed due to the lockdown measurers. A lot of fishermen had to suspend their activities for the months of March and April. There is another fishery market that they usually sell their fish to but due to the limited demand fishermen can no longer sell their products.

The EU has stepped in with amendments to the 2014-2020 EMFF allowing unspent funds to be used for supporting the fishing sector. In Cyprus the government has offered €1000 euros per month to vessels prepared to tie up during the lockdown. Further, the government has approved a budget of €750.000 for a scheme to mitigate the effects on the fisheries sector from the implementation of measures to tackle the corona pandemic. According to a relevant announcement, the aim of the Plan, which provides for the temporary suspension of fishing activities for a maximum period of 2 months, is to support the professional fishermen of Cyprus during the period of implementation of these restrictive measures.