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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

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Guidance on spatial technologies for disaster risk management in aquaculture: A Handbook Edited

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This new guide describes the application of spatial technology to improve disaster risk management (DRM) within the aquaculture sector. DRM requires interrelated activities to ensure prevention, preparedness (including early warning),…

Vulnerability of aquaculture‐related livelihoods to changing climate at the global scale

In this study, the distribution of vulnerability of aquaculture‐related livelihoods to climate change was assessed at the global scale based on the concept of vulnerability as a function of sensitivity…

FAO yearbook. Fishery and Aquaculture Statistics 2017 By FAO, 2017

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The FAO Yearbook of fishery and aquaculture statistics is a compilation of statistical data on capture fisheries and aquaculture production, employment, commodities production and trade, apparent fish consumption and fishing…

Climate-Smart Agriculture Sourcebook – Fisheries and aquaculture By FAO, 2017

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This module looks at the climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA) concept from the perspective of the fisheries and aquaculture sector. The module provides an overview of the contributions made by the fisheries…

Addressing agriculture, forestry and fisheries in National Adaptation Plans – Supplementary guidelines

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The document represents a supplementary sectorial guidelines for the development of National Adaptation Plan (NAP) for agriculture, forestry and fisheries. The development of these guidelines involved 15 Countries and 20…

Climate Change and Global Food Systems: Potential Impacts on Food Security and Undernutrition

In this article, we review the main pathways by which climate change may affect our food production systems—agriculture, fisheries, and livestock—as well as the socioeconomic forces that may influence equitable…

Women of the Shore: Screened at COP21 Climate Change Conference in Paris -December 2015 Opening film at Eco Film Festival Malaysia, 2016

In the island of Mindoro, fishing villages have been suffering from less fish day by day as women give birth to more and more children. This documentary explores the need…

Assessing climate change vulnerability in fisheries and aquaculture By Cecile Brugère and Cassandra De Young, FAO 2015

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This publication provides an overview of vulnerability assessment concepts and methodologies. It sheds light on the different vulnerability assessment methodologies that have been developed, and on how these are conditioned…

Climate change adaptation in fisheries and aquaculture – compilation of initial examples

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This circular contains a selection of current and recent climate change adaptation activities and measures in the fisheries and aquaculture sector. These examples provide an overview of the types of…

Winter School on Impact of Climate Change on Indian Marine Fisheries Lecture Notes – Part 1, CMFRI, Cochin held on 18.1.2008 – 7.2.2008

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The man-made problem of climate change is emerging as the biggest test for humankind. The greenhouse gas emission is increasing rapidly, and if unchecked, is likely to reach unprecedented and…