Future impacts of climate change on marine fisheries have the potential to negatively influence a wide range of socio-economic factors, including food security, livelihoods and public health, and even to reshape development trajectories and spark transboundary conflict. Yet there is considerable variability in the vulnerability of countries around the world to these effects. We calculate a vulnerability index of 147 countries by drawing on the most recent data related to the impacts of climate change on marine fisheries. Building on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change framework for vulnerability, we first construct aggregate indices for exposure, sensitivity and adaptive capacity using 12 primary variables. Seven out of the ten most vulnerable countries on the resulting index are Small Island Developing States, and the top quartile of the index includes countries located in Africa (17), Asia (7), North America and the Caribbean (4) and Oceania (8). More than 87% of least developed countries are found within the top half of the vulnerability index, while the bottom half includes all but one of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development member states. This is primarily due to the tremendous variation in countries’ adaptive capacity, as no such trends are evident from the exposure or sensitivity indices. A negative correlation exists between vulnerability and per capita carbon emissions, and the clustering of states at different levels of development across the vulnerability index suggests growing barriers to meeting global commitments to reducing inequality, promoting human well-being and ensuring sustainable cities and communities. The index provides a useful tool for prioritizing the allocation of climate finance, as well as activities aimed at capacity building and the transfer of marine technology.
Fishers worldwide operate in an environment of uncertainty and constant change. Their ability to manage risk associated with such uncertainty and subsequently adapt to change is largely a function of individual circumstances, including their access to different fisheries. However, explicit attention to the heterogeneity of fishers’ connections to fisheries at the level of the individual has been largely ignored. We illustrate the ubiquitous nature of these connections by constructing a typology of commercial fishers in the state of Maine based on the different fisheries that fishers rely on to sustain their livelihoods and find that there are over 600 combinations. We evaluate the adaptive potential of each strategy, using a set of attributes identified by fisheries experts in the state, and find that only 12% of fishers can be classified as being well positioned to adapt in the face of changing socioeconomic and ecological conditions. Sensitivity to the uneven and heterogeneous capacity of fishers to manage risk and adapt to change is critical to devising effective management strategies that broadly support fishers. This will require greater attention to the social-ecological connectivity of fishers across different jurisdictions.
Livelihood diversification can increase the number of activities generating income and is often adopted as a means to reduce vulnerability to risk and provide a pathway out of poverty. Previous empirical studies, however, have found that this diversification carries no guarantee of success. This study examines the impacts of investments in conservation-based enterprises and micro-credit interventions implemented in coastal Tanzania. Project beneficiaries (n = 178) and non-beneficiaries (n = 117) from seventeen communities surrounding Saadani National Park and the Menai Bay Conservation area were surveyed in 2013, to gather quantitative and qualitative data on a suite of parameters including the number of livelihood activities, total annual income, and engagement in extractive activities. We found that the beneficiaries reported an average of 2.15 livelihoods, which was significantly higher than the 1.44 average reported by the non-beneficiaries. The beneficiaries also had significantly higher mean annual incomes than the non-beneficiaries as the former reported an annual mean income of US $2,076 while the latter reported US $646. The research found a complex relationship between occupational diversity and people's interactions with the environment and it is clear that livelihood diversification is not a blanket solution to reducing pressure on coastal resources. Another important finding from the research is that there are distinct differences between types of livelihood interventions and it is crucial to be clear about the goal of a livelihoods intervention. If the goal is diversifying livelihoods and strengthening resilience, then livelihoods that provide a small and steady income for many entrepreneurs may be enough. However, if the goal is to bring people out of a poverty trap, then it makes more sense to invest in livelihoods that bring in a higher income, even if that means reaching fewer beneficiaries.
The global overexploitation of fish stocks is endangering many marine food webs. Scientists and managers now call for an ecosystem-based fisheries management, able to take into account the complexity of marine ecosystems and the multiple ecosystem services they provide. By contrast, many fishery management plans only focus on maximizing the productivity of harvested stocks. Such practices are suggested to affect other ecosystem services, altering the integrity and resilience of natural communities. Here we show that while yield-maximizing policies can allow for coexistence and resilience in predator-prey communities, they are not optimal in a multi-objective context. We find that although total prey and predator maximum yields are higher with a prey-oriented harvest, focusing on the predator improves species coexistence. Also, moderate harvesting of the predator can enhance resilience. Furthermore, increasing maximum yields by changing catchabilities improves resilience in predator-oriented systems, but reduces it in prey-oriented systems. In a multi-objective context, optimal harvesting strategies involve a general trade-off between yield and resilience. Resilience-maximizing strategies are however compatible with quite high yields, and should often be favored. Our results further suggest that balancing harvest between trophic levels is often best at maintaining simultaneously species coexistence, resilience and yield.
Resilience assessment allows targeted management, and many low Pacific island atolls have no baseline condition data or monitoring, and are threatened by sea-level rise. Ecological resilience is a useful management concept where an ecosystem risks losing its ability to recover, potentially driving itself to an undesirable state, which for atoll shorelines is beach erosion without recovery, and mangrove dieback. This study used spatial change analysis to assess resilience condition indicators for lagoon shore habitats of an atoll protected area, methods developed in the region to facilitate improved community based assessment and management decision making. The lagoon shore was the focus, being potentially more vulnerable to human impacts owing to higher population densities, and potentially more vulnerable to relative sea level rise owing low gradients and elevations. Results showed mangrove vegetation to be in healthy condition, and spatial analysis of coastal change found that the mangrove area expanded 1998–2013, increasing by 17%, at a rate of 604 m2 per year. Results from the southern beach coast showed littoral vegetation to be in poor condition, with profile evidence of recent erosion, confirmed by spatial analysis results of loss of a previous progradation trend. Spatial analysis results therefore confirmed the veracity of community methods for assessing mangrove and beach condition, allowing confidence in their use in assessment of resilience state and rehabilitation needs. Sediment supply is helpful to coastal resilience, and analysis of beach sand found it to be 99.9% carbonate, derived from foraminifera and fragmented shell and coral, and continued supply is essential to maintain resilience. Beach sediment from such biogenic sources is derived from offshore reefs, making resilience assessment and monitoring of those habitats a further priority. Suitable timeframes are needed for managers to assess resilience, necessitating a need for longer term monitoring projects in the region.
Climate change is already producing ecological, social, and economic impacts on fisheries, and these effects are expected to increase in frequency and magnitude in the future. Fisheries governance and regulations can alter socio-ecological resilience to climate change impacts via harvest control rules and incentives driving fisher behavior, yet there are no syntheses or conceptual frameworks for examining how institutions and their regulatory approaches can alter fisheries resilience to climate change. We identify nine key climate resilience criteria for fisheries socio-ecological systems (SES), defining resilience as the ability of the coupled system of interacting social and ecological components (i.e., the SES) to absorb change while avoiding transformation into a different undesirable state. We then evaluate the capacity of four fisheries regulatory systems that vary in their degree of property rights, including open access, limited entry, and two types of rights-based management, to increase or inhibit resilience. Our exploratory assessment of evidence in the literature suggests that these regulatory regimes vary widely in their ability to promote resilient fisheries, with rights-based approaches appearing to offer more resilience benefits in many cases, but detailed characteristics of the regulatory instruments are fundamental.
Coral reefs are degraded by the synergistic action of climate and anthropogenic stressors. Coral cover in the Palk Bay reef at the northern Indian Ocean largely declined in the past decade due to frequent bleaching events, tsunami and increased fishing activities. In this study, we carried out a comparative assessment to assess the differences in the recovery and resilience of three spatially distant reefs viz. Vedhalai, Mandapam and Pamban along Palk Bay affected by moderate, severe and low fishing pressure respectively. The assessment was based on the juvenile coral recruitment pattern and its survivability combined with availability of hard substratum, live coral cover and herbivore reef fish stock. The Vedhalai reef has the highest coral cover (14.6 ± 6.3%), and ≥90% of the live corals in Vedhalai and Mandapam were affected by turf algal overgrowth. The density of herbivore reef fish was low in Vedhalai and Mandapam reefs compared to the Pamban reef with relatively few grazing species. The juvenile coral diversity and density were high in the Pamban reef and low in Vedhalai and Mandapam reefs despite high hard substratum cover. In total, 22 species of juvenile corals of 10 genera were recorded in Palk Bay. Comparison of the species diversity of juvenile corals with adult ones suggested that the Pamban reef is connected with other distant reefs whereas Vedhalai and Mandapam reefs were self-seeded. There was no statistically significant difference in the survivability of juvenile corals between the study sites, and in total, ≥90% of the juvenile corals survived the high sedimentation stress triggered by the northeast monsoon and bleaching stress that occurred recurrently. Our results indicated that the human activities indirectly affected the juvenile coral recruitment by degrading the live coral cover and contributed to the spatial variation in the recovery and resilience of the Palk Bay reef. Low species diversity of the juvenile corals will increase the vulnerability of the Palk Bay reef to species-specific endemic threats.
In many parts of the world, both wild and cultured populations of bivalves have been struck by mass mortality episodes because of climatic and anthropogenic stressors whose causes and consequences are not always clearly understood. Such outbreaks have resulted in a range of responses from the social (fishers or farmers) and governing systems. We analyzed six commercial bivalve industries affected by mass mortalities using I-ADApT, a decision support framework to assess the impacts and consequences of these perturbations on the natural, social, and governing systems, and the consequent responses of stakeholders to these events. We propose a multidimensional resilience framework to assess resilience along the natural, social, and governing axes and to compare adaptive responses and their likelihood of success. The social capital and governability of the local communities were key factors affecting the communities’ resilience and adaptation to environmental changes, but the rapid degradation of natural ecosystems puts the bivalve industry under a growing threat. Bivalve mariculture and fishing industries are likely to experience increased frequency, severity, and prevalence of such mass mortality events if the resilience of the natural systems is not improved. An understanding of previous adaptation processes can inform strategies for building adaptive capacity to future events.
Small-scale fisheries are important for the livelihoods of millions but are vulnerable to global and local stresses. Resilient households are able to maintain, and even grow their livelihoods, despite these stresses. Improving fishers’ resilience contributes to poverty prevention and alleviation. Effective intervention requires accurate evaluation of fisher resilience, but no quantitative tool currently exists. In this study, we propose the fisheries livelihoods resilience check (FLIRES check) as a widely applicable tool to evaluate fisher livelihood resilience. This new tool combines the principles of the Sustainable Livelihoods Approach with the methodology of RAPFISH (a rapid assessment of fisheries sustainability). For the FLIRES check, 43 attributes were designed to quantify previously described qualitative factors that enable or constrain livelihoods in fishing communities in West Sumatra, Indonesia. These were grouped into six “capital” fields (financial, human, natural, institutional, physical and social) used in the Sustainable Livelihoods Approach. RAPFISH multidimensional scaling was applied to evaluate resilience in each of these fields on a scale from good (resilient) to bad (vulnerable). The FLIRES check was tested in two fishing communities in West Sumatra. The tool identified strengths and weaknesses in livelihood resilience at a household, fishing gear and village scale, for each field. The FLIRES assessment compared well with qualitative descriptions as assessed by interview. It facilitates quantitative temporal and spatial comparisons of livelihood resilience which has not previously been possible. We invite further testing, refining of the attributes and wider application of this methodology.
This chapter provides a brief overview of the latest insights from climate change research, including expected impacts and implications of uncertainty, with a focus on sea-level rise and adaptation.