Coronavirus in Argentina: Fishing Paralysis Sows Uncertainty in the Falklands

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If in the Falklands they were preparing for a blow to their economy due to the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union, the damage that COVID 19 can cause is not less. It is the uncertainty about the future of the fish markets, whose profits constitute the main income to its public coffers.

In statements this weekend, executives in the islands acknowledged a severe impact on operations in the sector.

For starters, the Clerk of the Falkland Islands Association of Fishing Companies, James Bates, recognized the weekly Penguin News that the main Fishing markets were paralyzed in several cases and demand and prices had fallen. And that with it they received a severe blow.

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“Has Covid-19 had a severe effect on the Argentine industry? Looking at other fishing posts as well as some articles on MC, the news is not good anywhere at the moment. “he asked after consulting Clarion on the impact on the islands.

For his part, the counselor of the Legislative Assembly Barry Elsby He reflected that “like other countries, many of our businesses have been affected by the collapse of market prices,” as is the case with the wool industry, or businesses closed as part of quarantine. There have been 13 positive cases of coronavirus on the islands so far, the majority of personnel working at the Mount Pleasant airport-military base.. “The closure came at the end of our tourist season and it is still too early to try to understand what effect Covid will have on the upcoming season.”Elsby argued and was optimistic. “However, FIG can offer financial support to several local companies at this time, and our reserves of more than 2.5 times annual spending means that we will be less affected than some countries in the region.”

However, although the crisis may be cyclical, while the economic restrictions of the pandemic last – and therefore it is difficult to measure its long-term reach in the Falklands – fishing is the main entrance to the archipelago’s rich public coffers.

Between a 50 and 60 percent of a GDP of 164 million dollars (70,000 per capita, one of the highest for being only 3,300 inhabitants) It comes from the fishing licenses that are leased to international companies, and whose vessels operate in the area of ​​sovereignty dispute with Argentina. But today, that market, in which companies hired by Spain mostly sail, is in crisis due to the coronavirus pandemic. The islanders are resistant, they adapt to all kinds of conditions. And while they are living without the two weekly flights that Latam made to the archipelago and they do not receive a single tourist out of the tens of thousands that arrived each year on cruises and planes – while the quarantine restrictions continue – they rejected an offer of humanitarian aid made to them by the Falklands secretary, Daniel Filmus.

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Janet Robertson, manager of Consolidated Fisheries Ltd, told him that the company he runs keeps in touch with buyers to respond to the current crisis. “We are in a position to weather the storm until things start to normalize, but of course it is a worrying time for everyoneespecially for those with major markets in the United States and Europe, “he said Clarion.

As the site of Mercopress, Hotels, restaurants and shops in the United States and the East stopped and stopped their movements in the islands where they hope that the blockade will soon be loosened. Still, Mercopress argued, the UK government offered to sustain its so-called Overseas Territories during the crisis. “We have no way of knowing at this stage what the state of the economy will be like as the world comes out of this crisis, so we are prepared for prices to continue to drop for quite some time,” said Robertson, who curiously is of Argentine origin .

For his part, Stuart wallace, of the Fortuna company, said that although the squid and fish fisheries were in a certain normality, the squid season was already over and the large ships would head towards Vigo, Spain, their main market. But he acknowledged that the operational and marketing situation was worrying. His business “is not a factory where it just shuts down. The biggest concern will be” when our stock arrives, which will be in about a month, and we all know that a lot can happen at that time. Normally, a great demand for our products would be to serve bars and restaurants throughout Europe. At the moment all that is closed. Many more people are preparing food at home, so that part of the market has increased, but we don’t think that makes up for the lost market segment. But, a month is a long time these days and in the meantime there will be changes, “he said.

He added: “Not only do we need to know about demand, but we must also be aware of the individual customer situation, the attitude of the banks and what international competitors may be doing. We are fortunate that, unlike fresh seafood producers, our product has a shelf life, although of course it also comes at a cost

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