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OUR WORK

Disasters and Climate Change

Living on the edge of land, coastal fishing communities have to often deal with major natural disasters. When at sea, fishers risk dangers of unpredictable weather. The vulnerability of small-scale fishers results not merely from such risks but also their marginal social and political state.

Natural disasters do not discriminate. They hit all who come in range. How people cope with their assault and how they recover from their destruction, though, is a completely different story. Social standing, financial viability, political and environmental conditions—they all determine the vulnerability and ability to recover.

Already under the threat of pollution, biodiversity loss and increasing competition for resources, climate change has further endangered them in both marine and inland fisheries. Natural disasters are becoming more frequent. They occur with increasing intensity and destructive force. This is exactly what climate scientists have been projecting.

Ockhi, a tropical deep depression in the Indian Ocean off southern India, intensified into a cyclonic storm on November 29, 2017. It savaged fishers out at sea over four days, killing more than 350, injuring many, destroying vessels and fishing gear.

The tsunami on December 26, 2004, followed the most powerful earthquake in 40 years underwater near Indonesia. It sent a 40-foot-high wall of water barrelling at high speed, crashing into the coasts rimming the Indian Ocean. Killing more than 250,000 in six countries. Fishers were the worst hit.

Climate change has reduced the viability of fishing operations across the board, especially hitting women, who have to pick after everybody else. Rising sea levels, the changing physical and chemical state of the marine waters, the resulting effects on marine species, increasing competition over scarce resources…

All efforts to mitigate climate change must be based on studying their social impacts. Managing these risks and adapting to them requires financial and technological transformation. Monitoring of the effects of climate change is as important as compensation from human-made disasters like pollution, oil spills with compensation. Human rights is the cornerstone of dealing with this challenge, demanding a focus on the most vulnerable.

Current Programmes

ICSF is undertaking a range of initiatives to highlight the social and political dimensions of disasters and climate change, particularly of Covid-19. It also draws attention to the impact of climate change on fisheries resources and on fishing communities and advocate for appropriate and socially-just adaptation and mitigation measures. In December 2020, Covid-19 had spread to over 200 countries and resulted in the deaths of over 1.3 million people. As the coronavirus remerged in second and third waves in many parts of the world, ICSF undertook case studies in four countries – Cambodia, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Mozambique – to document the impacts of the pandemic on the lives and livelihoods of vulnerable small-scale fishing communities, particularly in the marine and inland capture fisheries value chain. While lockdowns and the restrictions on movement of people and goods disrupted fish production and supply chains, the economic slowdown and reduced incomes led to a decline in demand for aquatic foods. Small-scale fisheries contribute significantly to domestic food security and livelihoods, and this is especially true in the selected countries. In this context, the studies examined whether pandemic control measures reduced access to fish and aquatic foods for low-income and vulnerable populations. Covid-19 also impacted small-scale fishers and fish vendors’ access to domestic and international markets. In the countries that were able to provide social protection measures, the case studies analyze their effectiveness and inclusivity of fisher and fishworker families. Today, the Covid-19 case count is over 164 million and nearly 3.5 million people have lost their lives. While the four countries had witnessed relatively low rates of infection at the time of the studies, some are now experiencing a sharp rise in infections and fatalities. Thus, small-scale fisheries need support to adapt and recover from Covid-19, to protect lives and livelihoods and to enhance their contributions to food security.

Resources

Covid response 2020: ICSF’s Newsletter on covid-19 emergency assistance to small-scale fishing communities in India

The World Health Organization (WHO) characterized COVID-19 a pandemic on 11 March, 2020. Two weeks later, a nationwide lockdown was announced in India, to ensure consistency in the application and…

Report of the National Workshop on Small-scale Fisheries, Cyclone Ockhi and Disaster Risk Management By Ahana Lakshmi, ICSF, 2018

The National Workshop held from 29 to 30 May, 2018 at Thiruvananthapuram, India brought together 68 participants from India representing the fishing community, fishworker organisations, civil society organisations, governments, multilateral…

Seawalls, Groynes and Breakwaters: Their impacts on the Kerala’s beaches and small-scale fisheries: India Study: Contextualization of SSF Guidelines By D. Nandakumar and A.J.Vijayan, ICSF, 2015

This study examines how coastal engineering structures such as seawalls, groynes and breakwaters have had a long term impact on the coast and traditional small-scale fisheries in Kerala. https://www.icsf.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/930.ICSF020.pdf

The Sea of Change: Traditional fishworker’s perception of climate change Directed by Rita Banerjee and Produced by ICSF, 2014

Shot in Kakinada in the south Indian state of Andhra Pradesh and in Mumbai in the state of Maharashtra, the film explores the perceptions of the traditional fishworkers to the…

Climate Change and Fisheries: Perspectives from Small-scale Fishing Communities in India on Measures to Protect Life and Livelihood

Through consultations with key fisheries-based stakeholders in four States of India, this study attempts to assess perceptions of fishing communities about the impact of climate change on their lives and…

Review of Literature for ICSF Study on “Climate Change and Fisheries: Perspectives from Small-scale Fishing Communities in India on Measures to Protect Life and Livelihood”

The review looks at the Climate Change scenario for India and the impacts of climate change on the fishery resources and the coastal community depending on fish for their livelihood…

International legal instruments relevant to fisheries and fishing communities: A handbook on Environmental pollution; Fishing vessels and safety at sea

The section on Environmental Pollution provides information on instruments relating to pollution of the marine environment by ships and land–based sources, and on climate change and the ozone layer. Included…

Report of workshop on emerging concerns of fishing communities: Issues of labour, trade, gender, disaster preparedness, biodiversity and responsible fisheries; Fortaleza, Brazil

The workshop was co-hosted by the NGO Instituto Terramar. The document gives a detailed report of the presentations and discussions transpired in the workshop. It is also worth noting that…

Post-Tsunami Rehabilitation of Fisheries Livelihoods: ICSF Information Dossier By ICSF 2005

This dossier puts together various articles and information that is likely to be of relevance to those engaged with rehabilitation of fisheries-based livelihoods in Tamil Nadu, the state in India…

In Ockhi’s Wake: Disaster Preparedness at Sea Directed by Shibani Chaudhury and Produced by ICSF, 2018

This film focuses on the damage that Cyclone Ockhi wrought at sea of Kerala and Tamil Nadu in south India, in November 2017. Based on grassroots reporting, with on-the-ground narratives…

Addressing Climate Change in Fisheries and Aquaculture: Reporting on Progress and Action Plan for the Implementation of the FAO Strategy on Climate Change 2022-2031

This document provides an overview of the intersessional work carried out by FAO on climate change in relation to fisheries and aquaculture. It reports on normative work in response to…

The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2022: Towards blue transformation by FAO

The 2022 edition of The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture coincides with the launch of the Decade of Action to deliver the Global Goals, the United Nations Decade of…

The IPCC Sixth assessment report assesses the impacts of climate change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability

The Working Group II contribution to the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report assesses the impacts of climate change, looking at ecosystems, biodiversity, and human communities at global and regional levels. It…

The Covid-19 pandemic, small-scale fisheries and coastal fishing communities By Nathan J. Bennett et al., 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has rapidly spread around the world with extensive social and economic effects. This editorial focuses specifically on the implications of the pandemic for small-scale fishers, including marketing…

Local practices and production confer resilience to rural Pacific food systems during the covid-19 pandemic By Caroline E.Ferguson et al., 2022

Resilience of food systems is key to ensuring food security through crisis. The COVID-19 pandemic presents an unprecedented shock that reveals varying levels of resilience of increasingly interconnected food systems…

Politics of vulnerability: Impacts of covid-19 and cyclone harold on Indo-Fijians engaged in small-scale fisheries By Sangeeta Mangubhai et al., 2021

  The global COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the shortcomings of our health, social, and economic systems. While responding to the health crisis, governments are scrambling to understand and address the…

The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2020: Sustainability in action By FAO, 2020

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The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture aims to provide objective, reliable and up-to-date information to a wide audience – policymakers, managers, scientists, stakeholders and indeed everyone interested in the…

Climate change adaptation in SIDS : A systematic review of the literature pre and post the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report

SIDS include 58 countries that are disproportionately vulnerable to climate change and its impacts. Many of them are highly dependent on fisheries. This report specifically explores shifts in (a) when,…

State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World SOFI 2020 By FAO, 2020

The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World is the most authoritative global study tracking progress towards ending hunger and malnutrition. The report argues that once sustainability considerations…

How coastal erosion destroyed a Ghanaian village By BBC, 2019

Sea erosion continues to wreak havoc on villages along West Africa’s shoreline, threatening communities. Many homes on the coast of Ghana’s Volta region have been destroyed by waves in recent…

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