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Small-scale fishing communities suffer as industrial fleets plunder the seas by Nick Clark May 22,2020   |  Source: Al Jazeera

It was the product that powered the Vikings, that went on to make Norway rich long before oil, and is still the source of a multimillion-dollar industry: fish, specifically cod, or skrei, to be precise, the name derived from Old Norse for "the wanderer". From January to April, these fish return in their millions to the Arctic waters off the Lofoten Islands to spawn. And for thousands of years, humanity has cashed in on this bountiful act of nature.

I was reminded of this story by one of those Facebook alerts, a picture from these rugged, breathtaking islands from our shoot there this time last year. We filmed the centuries-old tradition of catching, drying and selling the resulting delicacy, as far afield as Italy and Nigeria.

The fishery is a rarity in that it is both sustainable and profitable. But this year it has taken a predictable hit, with a sharp fall in demand. And it is the same the world over. For fishing communities from the Philippines to Peru, COVID-19 has been a disaster.

There are around 40 million fishers worldwide, the vast majority of whom live in developing countries and depend on the money they make from their catch to put food on their table. The UN's body on trade, UNCTAD, said fish exports for 2020 are expected to drop by at least a third, with

 

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