Global synthesis of fisheries and aquaculture's vulnerability to climate change
Six regional assessments of the vulnerability of fisheries and aquaculture in the Lake Chad Basin, the Mekong Delta, the Benguela Current, Pacific Islands Countries and Territories, Latin America and Caribbean Small Island Developing States were initially carried out at the initiative of FAO to provide information on the potential impacts of climate change on the sector and provide directions for adaption. Synthesing them revealed:
These assessements show large variations in terms of sensitivity to climate change, potential impacts, adaptive capacity, and vulnerability. They highlight simultaneously the wide range of vulnerabilities affecting natural and human fishery and aquaculture systems around the world, as well as those factors to which some systems are more vulnerable.
There are however general vulnerability issues running through all the case studies:
- In areas where vulnerability to climate change is heightened, increased exposure to climate change variables and impacts is likely to exacerbate current inequalities in the societies concerned, further penalizing disadvantaged groups such as migrant fishers (e.g. Lake Chad) or women (e.g. employees of the processing industry of Chile).
- It is the limited access to essential facilities (e.g. health, education, roads and communication infrastructures) – alone or coupled with the threat of a decrease in production (catches, harvests, either for sale or direct consumption) – that increases the vulnerability of small-scale fishers and aquaculture operators.
- Limited access to information and communication technologies was a recurrent hindrance to adapting fishing and harvesting practices and seizing market opportunities.
- Transboundary issues, arising from the difficult sharing of aquatic resources in a number of systems and the weakness of the institutions in charge of their management, are vastly complicated by the additional hurdle of climate change and the collective action it requires.
Governance provides a unifying perspective on the regional assessments. Throughout the case studies, it emerges as an overarching and conditioning factor of great importance in the vulnerability of fisheries and aquaculture systems around the world because of its influence on adaptation, in terms of efficiency and equity.
The synthesis will soon be available as an FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Technical Paper. In the meantime, excerpts of the synthesis and its conclusions are available in the State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture (SOFIA) 2014 (Part 3).