The Synergistic Impacts of Anthropogenic Stressors and COVID-19 on Aquaculture: A Current Global Perspective

G. Sarà, M. C. Mangano, M. Berlino, L. Corbari, M. Lucchese, G. Milisenda, S. Terzo, M. S. Azaza, J. M.F. Babarro, R. Bakiu, B. R. Broitman, A. H. Buschmann, R. Christofoletti, A. Deidun, Y. Dong, J. Galdies, B. Glamuzina, O. Luthman, P. Makridis, A. J.A. NogueiraM. G. Palomo, R. Dineshram, G. Rilov, P. Sanchez-Jerez, H. Sevgili, M. Troell, K. Y. AbouelFadl, M. N. Azra, P. Britz, C. Brugere, E. Carrington, I. Celić, F. Choi, C. Qin, T. Dobroslavić, P. Galli, D. Giannetto, J. Grabowski, M. J.H. Lebata-Ramos, P. T. Lim, Y. Liu, S. M. Llorens, G. Maricchiolo, S. Mirto, M. Pećarević, N. Ragg, E. Ravagnan, D. Saidi, K. Schultz, M. Shaltout, C. Solidoro, S. H. Tan, V. Thiyagarajan, B. Helmuth

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/Debate


The rapid, global spread of COVID-19, and the measures intended to limit or slow its propagation, are having major impacts on diverse sectors of society. Notably, these impacts are occurring in the context of other anthropogenic-driven threats including global climate change. Both anthropogenic stressors and the COVID-19 pandemic represent significant economic challenges to aquaculture systems across the globe, threatening the supply chain of one of the most important sources of animal protein, with potential disproportionate impacts on vulnerable communities. A web survey was conducted in 47 countries in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic to assess how aquaculture activities have been affected by the pandemic, and to explore how these impacts compare to those from climate change. A positive correlation between the effects of the two categories of drivers was detected, but analysis suggests that the pandemic and the anthropogenic stressors affect different parts of the supply chain. The immediate measurable reported losses varied with aquaculture typology (land vs. marine, and intensive vs. extensive). A comparably lower impact on farmers reporting the use of integrated multitrophic aquaculture (IMTA) methods suggests that IMTA might enhance resilience to multiple stressors by providing different market options under the COVID-19 pandemic. Results emphasize the importance of assessing detrimental effects of COVID-19 under a multiple stressor lens, focusing on areas that have already locally experienced economic loss due to anthropogenic stressors in the last decade. Holistic policies that simultaneously address other ongoing anthropogenic stressors, rather than focusing solely on the acute impacts of COVID-19, are needed to maximize the long-term resilience of the aquaculture sector.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)123-135
Number of pages13
JournalReviews in Fisheries Science and Aquaculture
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2022
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We are grateful to all the respondents who took the time to take the survey. The Open Access publication of the MS was funded by M. Cristina Mangano FOE N. 418 at Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn (personal OA publication fund). People at Laboratory of Ecology have been found by the PRIN-MAHRES project (Ministry of Italian Research; MUR) 2017MHHWBN_003 Linea C and by the HARMONY Project Italy-Malta 2016 (grant C1-3.1-31) funded by the Sicilian Region and Maltese Government. A. Nogueira thanks FCT/MCTES for the financial support to CESAM (UIDP/50017/2020+UIDB/50017/2020), through national funds. J.M.F. Babarro thanks project PID2019-106008RB-C21 for support through Spanish Government funds. We additionally thank Gaspare Barbera for his technical feedback during the questionnaire design, Marko Yusup, Gavin Burnell, Mattew Slater and Gray A. Williams and many other colleagues for their effort done in facilitating the circulation of questionnaires. We are grateful to QUALTRICS (Inc. USA) Product Specialists based in Italy to have answered to queries about software technicality. We deeply thanks the Ethical Committee at the University of Palermo for their prompt and effective support in assessing the questionnaire.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Author(s). Published with license by Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.


  • SARS-CoV-2 pandemic
  • climate change
  • food insecurity
  • multiple stressors
  • socio-ecological systems
  • stakeholder perceptions
  • supply chain
  • vulnerability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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