COVID-19 has profoundly impacted global livelihoods and disrupted the food supply chain, including the aquaculture and fisheries industries. Little is known about the response to COVID-19 and the impact it has on incomes, livelihoods and knowledge and practice in the coastal artisanal fishers communities of Bangladesh. Therefore, the aim of this study was to determine the socio-demographics of selected coastal fishers, their knowledge about COVID-19 and the preventive practice taken to reduce it. The impact on their fishing habits and income was also examined to determine potential policy areas. Data were collected via a structured questionnaire from 250 respondents from three coastal districts, Cox’s Bazar, Patuakhali and Barguna, Bangladesh during April–June 2020. The research shows that the fishers’ knowledge about COVID-19 and measures taken to reduce it were significantly higher in Patuakhali and Barguna than in Cox’s Bazar. The pandemic caused lower consumer demand, reduced fish prices and created fish transportation issues due to movement restrictions enforced during the lockdown. Irrespective of geographical location, fishing trips were reduced by frequency and duration compared with the pre-COVID-19 period, consequently lowering the income of fishers. Fishers have received little or no support from private, non-governmental or governmental sources. Considering the evidence in this paper of economic hardship, this paper recommends artisanal fishers in Bangladesh should be provided with support to improve their health education, access to professional health facilities and financial services. This will contribute to improved food security and sustainable livelihoods that can better withstand local and/or global crises.