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Living Abroad

How COVID-19 Has Impacted Expat Life

COVID-19 has disrupted the lives of billions of people all over the globe, and expats are no exception.

How COVID-19 Has Impacted Expat Life

Young woman video-calling with friends.

iStock.com/Martin Dimitrov

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In one of the biggest annual surveys on expat life, Expat Insider, the global networking community InterNations asked both locals and expats about the impact of the pandemic.

A Shake-Up in Relocation Plans

Among all survey respondents, close to one in ten (9%) say they have moved or will move home earlier than originally intended due to COVID-19 — though 46% of them also plan to return to their life abroad within the year. A US American respondent shares: "I left the employer I was with, but I still hope to return overseas in some capacity."

One in six (17%) had to stop their plans to either move abroad in the first place or to relocate from one foreign country to another. However, 7% also say that they have now decided to move to another country due to the pandemic, while 12% of respondents are planning to extend their current stay abroad. The rest (55%) states that the pandemic has not had a direct impact on their relocation plans and/or current stay in a foreign country.

Moving Abroad Because of Corona

Among local survey participants, close to one in ten (9%) say they are now planning an international relocation due to COVID-19. In Russia, the share of local respondents who now want to move is particularly high at 20%. Expats, on the other hand, are less likely to plan a move to another foreign country because of the pandemic: only 6% give this answer. Notably, this group is overrepresented in a number of GCC States, though, such as Kuwait (19%), Saudi Arabia (12%), and Oman (11%), which are joined by South Africa (13%), Singapore (12%), and India (10%).

The Pandemic's Impact on Everyday Life

Of course, COVID-19 has not only disrupted relocation plans. When asked where they see the biggest impact of the pandemic on their personal life right now, survey respondents point out its effects on personal travel (25%), social life (23%), and on work and business (16%) in particular. Again, the difference between expats and local respondents is quite interesting. Both groups are quick to point out the impact on their social life (24% of expats, 21% of locals). "My social life was killed by COVID-19 at the worst moment: my arrival," a French expat in Budapest shares. However, while respondents living abroad are more likely to struggle with the pandemic's effect on personal travel (28% of expats vs. 18% of locals), one in five local respondents (20%) shares that the pandemic has especially impacted their work or business (vs. 15% of expats).

Find out more in the complete Expat Insider 2021 report.

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The Unsustainable Future Of Fish Farming — On Vivid Display In Turkish Waters

Currently, 60% of Turkey's fish currently comes from cultivation, also known as fish farming, compared to just 10% two decades ago. The short-sightedness of this shift risks eliminating fishing output from both the farms and the open seas along Turkey's 5,200 miles of coastline.

Photograph of two fishermen throwing a net into the Tigris river in Turkey.

Traditional fishermen on the Tigris river, Turkey.

Dûrzan Cîrano/Wikimeidia
İrfan Donat

ISTANBUL — Turkey's annual fish production includes 515,000 tons from cultivation and 335,000 tons came from fishing in open waters. In other words, 60% of Turkey's fish currently comes from cultivation, also known as fish farming.

It's a radical shift from just 20 years ago when some 600,000 tons, or 90% of the total output, came from fishing. Now, researchers are warning the current system dominated by fish farming is ultimately unsustainable in the country with 8,333 kilometers (5,177 miles) long.

Professor Mustafa Sarı from the Maritime Studies Faculty of Bandırma 17 Eylül University believes urgent action is needed: “Why were we getting 600,000 tons of fish from the seas in the 2000’s and only 300,000 now? Where did the other 300,000 tons of fish go?”

Professor Sarı is challenging the argument from certain sectors of the industry that cultivation is the more sustainable approach. “Now we are feeding the fish that we cultivate at the farms with the fish that we catch from nature," he explained. "The fish types that we cultivate at the farms are sea bass, sea bram, trout and salmon, which are fed with artificial feed produced at fish-feed factories. All of these fish-feeds must have a significant amount of fish flour and fish oil in them.”

That fish flour and fish oil inevitably must come from the sea. "We have to get them from natural sources. We need to catch 5.7 kilogram of fish from the seas in order to cultivate a sea bream of 1 kg," Sarı said. "Therefore, we are feeding the fish to the fish. We cannot cultivate fish at the farms if the fish in nature becomes extinct. The natural fish need to be protected. The consequences would be severe if the current policy is continued.”

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