Climate Change in the Fisheries Context
In the Caribbean region, marine biodiversity and ecosystems are critical to human well-being as they provide security, food and livelihood opportunities for coastal inhabitants as well as a source of foreign exchange through ecosystem services such as fisheries and tourism. Fisheries employ nearly 200,000 people in the Caribbean Community, earning US $5 billion to $6 billion per year in foreign exchange and providing about 10% of the region’s protein intake (Nurse, 2011).
The impacts of climate change for fisheries production and the state of marine ecosystems are a mounting concern (Brander 2010; Cheung et al. 2010; Barang et al. 2018). Negative impacts on marine resources and fisheries from climate change are already evident in the Caribbean (Oxenford & Monnereau 2018) and combine with existing threats from coastal development, pollution and overfishing to affect ecosystems, communities and economies. Visible and documented climate change impacts include coral bleaching, rising sea levels and beaching of masses of Sargassum.
Beyond its direct effects, climate change adds to the challenge of sustainably managing fisheries and aquaculture in the Caribbean in the face of other pressures, including fisheries overexploitation, pollution of coastal waters, invasive species, habitat destruction and coastal erosion. The FAO (2016) estimates that approximately 55% of the commercially-harvested fisheries stocks in the region are already overexploited or depleted and some 40% of the stocks are fully exploited (FAO 2016). Reef fisheries (e.g., snapper, grouper, lobster, conch), which support the majority of livelihoods in Caribbean fisheries have been particularly badly affected. This project and others like it are striving to build a foundation for successful climate change adaptation in the fisheries sector.
Barange, M., Bahri, T., Beveridge, M.C.M., Cochrane, K.L., Funge-Smith, S. & Poulain, F., eds. 2018. Impacts of climate change on fisheries and aquaculture: synthesis of current knowledge, adaptation and mitigation options. FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Technical Paper No. 627. Rome, FAO. 628 pp.
Brander, K., (2010). Impacts of climate change on fisheries. Journal of Marine Systems, 79(3), pp.389-402.
Cheung, W., Lam, V., Sarmiento, J., Kearney, K., Watson, R., Zeller, D. and Pauly, D. (2010). Large‐scale redistribution of maximum fisheries catch potential in the global ocean under climate change. Global Change Biology, 16(1), pp.24-35.
FAO (2016). McConney, P., Charlery, J., Pena, M., Phillips, T., Van Anrooy, R., Poulain, F., Bahri, T. Disaster risk management and climate change adaptation in the CARICOM and wider Caribbean region – Strategy and action plan. FAO. Rome. 29 pp.
Nurse, L., (2011). The implications of global climate change for fisheries management in the Caribbean, Climate and Development, 3:3, 228-241, DOI:10.1080/17565529.2011.603195
Oxenford, H. and Monnereau, I. (2018). Chapter 9: Climate change impacts, vulnerabilities and adaptations: Western Central Atlantic marine fisheries. In Barange et al. (eds) Impacts of climate change on fisheries and aquaculture: synthesis of current knowledge, adaptation and mitigation options. FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Technical Paper No. 627. Rome, FAO. 628 pp.