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Oil spill + COVID-19: A disastrous year for Brazilian seagrass conservation

Highlights•Brazil suffered the most extensive oil spill ever recorded in the tropical oceans.•Brazil has the second-highest number of deaths caused by COVID-19.•Oil spill consequences have not yet been analyzed for Brazilian seagrass beds.•Pandemic and large-scale environmental disasters increase impacts on seagrass.•Combined impacts on seagrass conservation need to be analyzed.AbstractThe COVID-19 pandemic has been the greatest global public health threat of the 21st century. Additionally, it has been challenging for the Brazilian shores that were recently (2019/2020) affected by the most extensive oil spill in the tropical oceans. Monitoring programs and studies about the economic, social and ecological consequences of the oil disaster were being carried out when the COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) pandemic was declared, which has heavily affected Brazil. For Brazilian seagrasses conservation, this scenario is especially challenging. An estimated area of +325 km2 seagrass meadows was affected by the 2019 oil spill. However, this area is undoubtedly underestimated since seagrasses have not yet been adequately mapped along the 9000 km-long Brazilian coast. In addition to scientific budget cuts, the flexibilization of public and environmental policies in recent years and absence of systematic field surveys due to COVID-19 has increased the underestimation of affected seagrass areas and ecosystem service losses due to the oil spill. Efforts to understand and solve the oil spill crisis were forced to stop (or slow down) due to COVID-19 and the economic crisis, leaving ecosystems and society without answers or conditions to identify the source(s) that was/were responsible for this spill, mitigate the damage to poor communities, promote adequate impact assessment or restoration plans, or properly monitor the environment. Our results highlight that pandemic and large-scale environmental disasters may have had a synergistic effect on the economy (e.g., artisanal fisheries and tourism), public health and ecology, mainly due to government inaction, social inequality and poorly studied tropical ecosystems. The results of this study also demonstrate the need to analyze the short- and long-term impacts of the combined effects (oil spill + COVID-19) on the recovery of the economy and coastal ecosystems.Graphical abstractDownload : Download high-res image (96KB)Download : Download full-size image

نشت نفت + COVID۱۹: سال فاجعه باری برای حفاظت از سواحل برزیل

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