The coronavirus crisis has inspired the workers at the Japanese Toyosu Fish Market to review their working conditions. Normally, the tuna auction draws a dense crowd of traders gathering very close to each other around the tuna. As the selling place is always noisy, most workers and traders do not wear face masks so they are better heard.
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the call for a new general working style is growing at the market. Suggestions were put forward to create more space between the tuna and keep more distance among traders during auctions. The pandemic has also hit the price and sales of tuna in the Toyosu Market as in Japan the demand for frozen and fresh tuna has declined considerably.
Remarkably, while the coronavirus has become a global pandemic causing casualties in basically all nations, 18 countries have managed to stay infection-free. Comoros, Kiribati, Lesotho, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, North Korea, Palau, Samoa, Sao Tome and Principe, Solomon Islands, South Sudan, Tajikistan, Tonga, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, and Yemen have so far managed to keep the virus out or have not reported any infections.
Among these countries are seven PNA island nations, located in the WCPO where the world's richest tuna resources are found. They have completely isolated themselves from the outside world, no one is allowed to enter or leave the countries. Besides Palau, the islands have no tourism which reduces the risk of infection. Palau's tourism dropped two years ago due to China blocking all trips for political reasons. Papua New Guinea is the only PNA nation with reported cases. Not on the list but in the same area, American Samoa is the only US territory that has no infections.
The tuna sector of the Caribbean island country of Barbados has drawn up a plan to increase the value and sustainability of its exports. United Nations organizations UNCTAD and FAO, also took part in the creation of the proposal. The goal is to boost tuna exports to USD 7.5 million by 2027, with fishers earning an additional USD 2.5 million over that period. In 2015, the deliveries amounted to USD 303,000.
The project looks to export processed tuna rather than unprocessed whole fish as it is currently being carried out. This initiative also addresses the different aspects of the national fishing industry where improvements are needed to transition from unprocessed to processed tuna deliveries. These include fleet efficiency, quality control, infrastructure, and the island’s first tuna processing plant.