Fishing charters, agriculture among industries hardest hit during pandemic, survey finds

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FORT MYERS

The effects of the coronavirus pandemic are far reaching, and officials held a Zoom press conference on Tuesday to highlight its assessment of the impacts of COVID-19 on Florida.

They examined the economic impact on the state’s agriculture, aquaculture and marine industries.

One of the findings shows that business closures were reported at higher rates in the commercial fishing and commercial fishing industries than in other sectors.

Gene Luciano, the owner of Dalis Fishing Charters, has been chartering for 47 years.

“Well, that practically shut us down,” he said. “April, I think I might have had two trips where normally we could do 30-40 trips.”

He said they also saw a devastating downturn after Hurricane Irma two and a half years ago. “Then we had the blue-green algae, which was amazing. Then we only had the red tide two years ago, the red tide last year, and now this situation here. “

A month-long University of Florida study on the impact of COVID-19 on agriculture, aquaculture and marine industries reveals how these groups have been affected differently.

The pandemic has also struck during prime time for many agricultural producers.

Dr John Lai, assistant professor of agro-industry at UF / IFAS, explained that “those whose operations felt impacts, 20% of respondents reported impacts over a period of about a month to a year. and a half months, and another 11%. felt impacts a little longer.

Charter and fishing companies reported the most closures.

Dr Andrew Ropicki, Assistant Professor of Marine Economics at UF / IFAS, said: “100% of those surveyed said their income had declined. “

But Luciano is convinced that they will bounce back. “We are in a big industry. We live in a large area. We have the best weather in the world. The fishing is magnificent.

The survey will serve as a benchmark as the situation around COVID-19 evolves. Another survey is expected this summer and in the future if businesses continue to feel an impact.


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