One of the great tragedies of climate change is that it will severely impact those who had very little to do with causing the problem. Natural resource-dependent communities – such as small-scale fisheries – in developing nations face a number of ongoing and potential future threats caused by the actions of developed countries.
A friend of mine, Ryan, was in Palawan with me while he was a Peace Corp Volunteer. Among his many impressive activities, he taught students about climate change. I’ll never forget him relating this to me (paraphrased): “It’s frustrating, because they ask me what they can do about it – and they can’t really do anything to stop it, because they aren’t part of the cause. All I can tell them is that they need to adapt and manage their resources to make them more resilient.”
The impact of climate change on my field sites was apparent, even though my research wasn’t focused on the topic. Fishers would comment on how seasons weren’t reliable anymore and how storms seemed more common, or how increased rain led to increased erosion of river banks and sedimentation along the coasts. These all have serious ramifications for fishing practices and for the reliability of fishing as a livelihood. At one site, they’re already noticing a loss of rice yields to saltwater intrusion of coastal agricultural fields – meaning that a major supplemental livelihood to fishing is also being compromised.
So, when a fellow CMBCer (and part of Ocean Scientists for Informed Policy)asked me to put together a little handout on the impacts of climate change on small-scale fisheries to distribute at the upcoming COP20 in Lima, I was happy to oblige. I’m by no means an expert on the topic, but I leaned heavily on some great references. Please take a look and share!
(Many thanks to Ana Dominguez Perez of the Gulf of California Marine Program for translating into Spanish!)