Coastal Communities Need More Climate Change PoliciesCatch of the Week
Coastal communities across the Pacific need more policies and programs to offset the adverse effects of climate change.
A policy brief from the Secretariat of the Pacific Community said projected declines in coastal fisheries production due to the effects of climate change are expected to reduce the availability of food and livelihood opportunities for coastal communities.
The direct effects of warmer water temperatures, changes in ocean currents, reductions in nutrient supply and ocean acidification on the reproduction, growth and distribution of coastal bottom-dwelling fish and shellfish, and the loss of habitats described above, are expected to cause progressive reductions in the productivity of coastal fisheries.
In addition, rapid population growth may also mean that the catches of fish and shellfish from coral reefs and other coastal habitats will not be able to supply the 35 kilograms of fish per person per year recommended for good nutrition. These can also affect subsistence fishing which is widely practiced by coastal communities.
However, several practical adaptations can minimize these effects and provide access to alternative supplies of fish for food security and jobs, the paper said.
The policy brief recommends a few management measures to reduce these threats to food security.
One measure is to make sure that coastal areas are cared for, particularly coastal fish habitats and surrounding ecosystem of coral reefs, mangroves, and seagrass.
Another measure is for coastal communities to cooperate in managing fish stocks, particularly bottom-dwelling fish and shellfish, by diversifying their catches.
Also critical is the training of communities, particularly women, in appropriate ways to improve traditional smoking, salting and drying methods to extend the shelf life of fish when good catches are made.
According to the policy brief, the local government also plays a key role by building the capacity to understand the threats posed by climate change, empowering communities to manage fish habitats, and changing agriculture, forestry, and mining practices to prevent sedimentation and pollution, among others.
(Story and photo courtesy of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community)