Warning of significant impacts on Caribbean fisheries due to climate change

A new research report from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) cautions that climate change is expected to significantly reduce fisheries globally by 2050, including in the Caribbean.

The report also advises countries to build a more sustainable and resilient sector through climate adaptation and mitigation strategies that can protect marine species, as well as strengthen fisheries production, food security, revenues and fisheries governance.

Titled ‘Impacts of climate change on fisheries and aquaculture: Synthesis of current knowledge, adaptation and mitigation options’, the 654-page report is the world’s most comprehensive publication on climate change and fisheries to date.

It features a 22-page chapter on marine fisheries in the Western Central Atlantic Ocean, which includes the Caribbean region, Gulf of Mexico and Northern Brazil area. The chapter, entitled Climate change impacts, vulnerabilities and adaptations: Western Central Atlantic marine fisheries, was co-authored by Dr. Hazel Oxenford, Professor of Fisheries and Marine Ecology at the University of the West Indies (Cave Hill), and Dr. Iris Monnereau, Regional Project Coordinator of the Climate Change Adaptation of the Eastern Caribbean Fisheries Sector (CC4FISH) Project, which is funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and is executed by the FAO.

Dr. Oxenford and Dr. Monnereau argue that the fisheries sector of the Caribbean’s Small Island Developing States (SIDS) is one of the most vulnerable to climate change in the world. They provide a thorough analysis of climate change impacts on the Caribbean fisheries sector; warmer sea temperatures, rising sea levels, coral bleaching, sargassum influxes and more frequent high intensity storms and hurricanes are already disrupting fishing operations and infrastructure, fish landings, fisher livelihoods and coastal communities.

They warn that if countries do not increase their efforts to build climate resilience at multiple stakeholder levels, including among local and regional fisherfolk and fisherfolk organizations, the disruptions will worsen as climate change progresses over the next three decades.