Covid-19 impact: Boost likely in conservation of marine species

Salalah: Hundreds of fishing vessels are parked at the ports due to closure of restaurants in big hotels and subsequent low demand of fish in the market. Not much footfall is there in the city eateries, which are allowed to open only for take away purposes.

Some active fishermen admit they have never seen such a situation in their life and hope for any solution only after the threat of Covid-19 pandemic is over.

Avid fisherman, diver and owner of a marine tourism company, Yousef al Shanfari, is in the habit of going into the sea daily to catch some fish and come back with loads of them selling some to hotels and distributing the rest among his family and friends.

This was his routine pre-coronavirus days. Since he cannot live without going into the sea, he still goes and comes back with some big catches, but hardly there are buyers due to closure of hotel restaurants. He keeps some of the catches for personal use and frees the rest into the sea, and this he has been doing almost for past three months.

Asked what changes he finds between pre-Corona and post-Corona days when he ventures into the sea, and Yousuf quips, “Big changes I can say. The noise in the sea has reduced, I find more fish and I find them more relaxed than earlier. It is easy now to catch them these days.”

He, however, was not able to explain the overall changes in marine life due to his own limitations of being a “simple diver and fisherman” and not an expert in marine studies.

Being an avid sea-farer Yousuf is convinced that this forced closure of commercial fishing ships would certainly help in conservation of species and recovery of fish stock.

Marine scientists are busy doing researches but yet to reach at any conclusion. “It is too early to suggest the changes as the researchers are collecting data and working on them, but it is for sure that so less activity globally into the sea is a rare phenomenon and needs to be studied as to when it happened last,” said a Muscat based marine researcher.

“It would certainly boost the conservation goals of the scientists and lot many changes would take place in coral reefs, as also in the behavior of thousands of marine species,” he said.

He suggested the researchers to accelerate their research process and co-ordinate with fellow researchers to maximise the results and come out with new findings.