The study authors said the findings suggest that policy in the Pacific should bolster sustainable local food production and practices to better position rural Pacific communities in the face of unprecedented change globally.
The LMMA Network worked with partners in FSM, Fiji, Palau, PNG, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Tuvalu to conduct the study.
The study surveys began in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, and were conducted over a year, in 199 villages. With COVID-19 travel restrictions, the study was driven by local researchers across the region and the published study featured several first time Pacific Island authors.
Increases in fishing pressure typically follow such events as cyclones when food crops are often destroyed. But with COVID-19, the study found increasingly agriculture was the main way people adapted, particularly in areas where villages experienced in-migration following a rise in unemployment.
The study did not find a significant increase in fishing, potentially due to a decrease in market demand. While many countries in the Pacific did not see widespread outbreaks, COVID-19 led to international border closures, tourism downturns, school closings, market restriction and employment loss that caused hardships throughout the region.