Oceans and COVID-19: Perspectives, Reflections, Recovery and Regulatory Frameworks

Saleem Mustafa(Universiti Malaysia Sabah)
John Hill(La Trobe University)
Sitti Raehanah M. Shaleh(Universiti Malaysia Sabah)
Abentin Estim(Universiti Malaysia Sabah)
Zarinah Waheed(Universiti Malaysia Sabah,)
Madihah Jafar Sidik(Universiti Malaysia Sabah)
Chen Cheng Ann(Universiti Malaysia Sabah)
Rossita Shapawi(University Malaysia Sabah)
Lim Leong Seng(Universiti Malaysia Sabah,)

Abstract


The Novel Coronavirus outbreak that originated in Wuhan city of China in December 2019 assumed the global pandemic proportions during 2020. The disease it causes (termed as COVID-19) has created an unprecedented public health crisis, taken 1,324,461 lives so far, infected 54,817,231 people around the world, battered the global economy and paralyzed the normal activity. The world has been pushed into recession with resulting long-term financial hardship and social misery for all and global goals of development have been challenged. This situation is evolving so rapidly that the data on numbers of infections and deaths are changing daily and the economic impacts are difficult to evaluate at this stage and probably will not be exactly known in the near future. There will be domino effects of the containment and mitigation measures that will be implemented for years to come. It is important to determine the genesis of the outbreak to understand the root causes of COVID-19 and to prevent such pandemics from occurring in the future. It is believed that the virus originated in a seafood market in Wuhan that was also trading in wildlife for human consumption. Such practices are associated with the habitat degradation and biodiversity loss, leading to an imbalance of the natural ecosystems. The zoonotic spillover of this infectious outbreak is a reflection of this impairment of natural systems. While concern for biodiversity is fairly widespread, its practical translation into conservation action is slow. One strategy is to invest more efforts into linking biodiversity with issues that affect daily life such as food security, public health, economy and the general wellbeing of the societies. In addition, the role of oceans, whether direct or indirect, must be examined and recognized. Scientific and anecdotal evidences demonstrate the significance of marine critical habitats in combating and containing human diseases. Marine bioprospecting for antiviral compounds in many marine organisms can lead to identification of organisms possessing curative properties that can be used to treat the COVID-19 patients until vaccines are developed and made available. There are many other ways in which the oceans can help in human health. In addition to providing an analysis of the COVID-10 outbreak, this paper also suggests knowledge-based and informed measures that need to be applied to prevent a repeat of such catastrophic events while highlighting the role of oceans in this context. However, the Covid-19 pandemic is a unique phenomenon and the current models relating to its growth and development are limited both in terms of credibility and effectiveness. Thus, a serious introspection is needed to holistically investigate the consequences of COVID-19 as the world moves towards rebuilding the economies and societies. The disruption of supply chains, the closure of industries, the collapse of domestic and international travel, coupled with widespread unemployment, are some of the most visible disruptions to normal living. The growth, societal paradigms and existing systems of governance should be up for a review.  Plans and strategies for recovering the global economy and ensuring its resilience will require incorporating natural and ecosystem restoration in conjunction with implementing the concept of sustainable living.  In this context, sustainability of the oceans is a key consideration in the development of a framework for post-COVID-19 recovery and this aspect is the major focus of this paper.

Keywords


Ocean solutions; pandemic; coastal architecture; marine bioprospecting; sustainable development

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.36956/sms.v2i1.238

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Copyright (c) 2021 Saleem Mustafa, John Hill, Sitti Raehanah M. Shaleh, Abentin Estim, Zarinah Waheed, Madihah Jafar Sidik, Chen Cheng Ann

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