• A selection of fresh seafood including fish, crustaceans and molluscs on a sales counter
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Resilience of the UK seafood system to COVID-19 disruption

The UK seafood industry and the COVID-19 disruption

The UK seafood industry is under unprecedented pressure to deliver on national food security during COVID-19/SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, while trying to adapt to remain socio-economically viable. However, no data exists on the systemic impacts to the UK seafood industry, adaptation actions employed by businesses and their potential effects on seafood supply. This compromises the timely adoption of measures to address challenges currently faced by businesses and delays the implementation of changes to increase the UK seafood industry’s resilience to future shocks.

RiseUp’s approach to inform a response to COVID-19 impacts and to increase food system resilience

RiseUP brings together the expertise of SAMS, the University of Manchester and Seafish to explore pathways to increase resilience at the system and business levels and provide policy-relevant recommendations and stakeholder-specific advice to address challenges. For this, we will collect evidence on the impacts of COVID-19 disruption across the UK seafood industry, how these are managed by businesses and how impacts are propagating through the supply network. 

A mixed-method approach combines data collection through interviews and surveys; modelling of the industry supply network to explore systemic, particularly unintended, consequences to its resilience; and in-depth case studies to investigate business model adaptation and circularity in selected sectors. The project runs for 18-months and will provide evidence for decision-making under pressure and uncertainty, to manage the COVID-19 disruption.

The project will outline areas for immediate action and inform strategic changes to increase the resilience of the UK seafood industry to future shocks. RiseUP will contribute to understanding the routes to increased resilience, sustainability and security of the UK’s seafood system.

How to contribute with information if your seafood business has been affected by COVID-19 disruption?

RiseUp started in July 2020 and the team is preparing to start data collection. On a first instance, we will be contacting businesses across the seafood industry to conduct interviews gather evidence on the effects of the COVID-19 disruption across the sector, the response from seafood businesses and the uptake of existing support mechanisms (e.g. government support measures). We are interested to hear the experiences from UK fisheries and aquaculture operators, seafood processors, upstream supply chain, logistics, wholesale, retailers and foodservice (including fishmongers and restaurants). RiseUp will also be conducting a survey, on the supply-chain structure and flows within the UK seafood industry, to allow a deeper look into the systemic impacts of the COVID-19 disruption and how these have propagated. A link to the survey will be made available in upcoming months. 

Please contact the project lead (sofia.franco@sams.ac.uk) if you would like to share your experience of how COVID-19 has affected your business and how you are responding to this, and contribute to the interviews or RiseUp’s wider data collection. Any business information shared with the team will be fully anonymised and will only be used in the study with your explicit consent, in full compliance with ethical standards. RiseUp is also working in collaboration with Seafish, which is collecting real time data on the impact of COVID-19 on the UK seafood sector through seafish@seafish.co.uk, to inform weekly government updates.

Role of SAMS on project

SAMS is the lead partner and collaborates with the University of Manchester and Seafish to deliver RiseUp’s various work packages. SAMS leads the data collection on the effects of the COVID-19 disruption on seafood businesses, their responses and relevant seafood supply-chain network flows (WP1) and is responsible for the analysis of the seafood sector industry network resilience (WP2). The University of Manchester is responsible for the work on business model adaptation, resilience and circularity, through the analysis of in-depth business case studies (WP3).