COVID-19 Foresighting

The Oceans Futures project team develops and tests approaches that can help marine scientists, marine managers and policy makers prepare for future challenges. A variety of approaches, including quantitative and qualitative modelling, foresighting future scenarios, and historical data analysis are used to achieve this goal. The team is currently undertaking situational analysis and planning in response to COVID-19, with a focus on marine industries and marine science.

Impact on marine industries & science

  1. Science is a global activity and science providers are presented with a range of challenges – our focus is the marine environment.
  2. Marine industries are also part of a global market. For example, seafood is one of the most widely traded food products.
  3. International trends and drivers affect Australian marine industries, resource use and management. The COVID-19 epidemic is seeing cascading national and international impacts on this network.
  4. Three sequential periods in this crisis have been proposed. Response – involving managing for continuity (now); Recover – learning and emerging (until vaccine); Thrive – preparing for the new normal (e.g. post-vaccine).

The Ocean Futures team is using four scenarios to explore the Response, Recover, and Thrive phases for marine sectors (including seafood) and marine science (Figure 1).

Figure 1. Scenario space relative to two primary axes of influence. Each scenario blurs with the neighboring ones.

Project Update 1 (2 page pdf) (OceanFuturesFlier2_COVID).

Impacts on marine sectors

  • Fisheries
    • Corona virus is killing Australia’s lobster export market (February 19, 2020) – The Conversation (link)
    • With Boats Stuck in Harbor Because of COVID-19, Will Fish Bounce Back? (April 8, 2020). The Smithsonian – (link)
    • Impacts on Fisheries and Aquaculture (May 4, 2020) – The Skimmer (link)

Impacts on marine scientists

  • Lower productivity – Declining research productivity for some scientists (April 21, 2020) – Inside Higher Education (link)
  • Higher productivity – Shut-in scientists are spending more time on research papers (April 9, 2020) – Nature (link)
  • Publishing trends for marine scientists in the first 6 months of COVID
    • Hobday, A. J., H. Browman, I. and S. Bograd (2020). Publishing and peer reviewing as indicators of the impact of COVID-19 on the productivity of the aquatic science community. ICES Journal of Marine Science 77(7-8): 2439–2444 doi:2410.1093/icesjms/fsaa2151.

Scenarios for a post-COVID world

A range of alternative scenarios are being published and discussed. Links to some examples are included below.

  • Six Predictions for a new world (April 2020)- Fast Company (link)
  • How Coronavirus will change the world (April 2020) – Politico (link)
  • Impacts on the University research sector (April 2020) – The Conversation (link)
  • There will be no ‘back to normal’ (April 2020) – Nesta UK (link)