Livelihood adaptation

A further set of adaptation options are centred on livelihood adaptation, within the sector and to other sectors.

There are market and livelihood adaptation strategies that respond to climate- induced changes, i.e. anticipatory and/or reactive responses, including autonomous adaptation.[1] Under future climate change, the fishing industry will adjust reactively to address losses, and will take advantage of the opportunities that may occur from changes in fish stocks and the distribution of species and/or changes in species composition. In developed countries, many of these changes will be driven by the existing private sector automatically, although they could be facilitated with information, awareness, etc. from the public sector. Indeed, such changes are already happening (Young et al., 2019).

The costs and benefits of these reactive changes will depend on the localized losses or opportunities faced, and thus have strong distributional patterns. Temperature defines the geographical distribution of many species and their responses to climate change (Portner et al., 2014), and this will lead to changes in abundance, geographical distribution, migration patterns, and timing of seasonal activities of species. This means that some areas will experience improvements in catch potential or value, while others will lose. Where there are opportunities (Frontier Economics, Ibaris and Ecofys, 2013), these reactive adaptation options may include increasing vessel capacity and changing equipment to fish for different species, if new or more profitable opportunities arise. Where there are losses, fishers may also adapt reactively to try and address these falling catches, for example, by taking longer trips or by making additional investments such as with FADs. However, these measures will involve additional costs from longer distances travelled, or the need to change equipment or to deeper-water vessels. An early adaptation option is to increase awareness and communicate these changes to fishers, which in turn involves enhanced monitoring of new species (Frontier Economics, Ibaris and Ecofys, 2013), although this falls to the public sector.

There can also be market (autonomous) adaptation from changes in aggregate production, prices and trade. This may lead to changes in supply chains (longer supply chains or alternatives), or it could lead to changes in demand. As an example, these types of changes have been modelled using computable general equilibrium (CGE) models. These show that reactive adaptation costs may be low because economic welfare impacts are compensated by the counteracting effect of trade (although this depends on the substitutability for trade flows and domestic production). For example, the CIRCLE modelling analysis of future climate change (OECD, 2015b) modelled changes in global fisheries catch potential (linking to analysis from Cheung et al., 2010). CGE models can also look at the autonomous effects of enhanced trade in reducing impacts, although they tend to overlook some of the additional transaction costs (and friction) as well as additional transport (and cold storage) costs from longer- supply chains. Again, in some cases, these autonomous changes can be encouraged by governments, for example, by stimulating domestic demand for a broader range of species, or through joined-up retailer and media campaigns (Frontier Economics, Ibaris and Ecofys, 2013). Government is also likely to have a role if increased international trade is used to compensate for local falls.

Alongside this, there is a set of livelihood diversification options within the sector that will be important for developing countries, where impacts will be larger (notably in the tropics, and small island developing States). As these may impact particularly on subsistence or small fishers, the reactive responses mentioned/listed above may be difficult to implement due to financing and information barriers, i.e. there is a need for planned support to encourage such changes. These impacts are likely to be most acute for shallow and near-shore fisheries, including fish and shellfish, especially where these are combined with impacts on key habitats (corals, seagrass, mangroves, etc.). This leads to a set of livelihood adaptations, either within the sector or between sectors.

One set of options centres on fisheries value chain development (for example, support to supply chain infrastructure, access to markets, support to diversification or high-value markets), but also extends to reducing post-harvest losses. However, these are not specifically targeted at climate risks. Several studies have identified aquaculture as one of these options. As an example, small-scale aquaculture has been identified as a viable adaptive strategy by fishers living around Lake Chad, where severe droughts have reduced the size of the lake (Ovie and Belal, 2012). Several studies have included aquaculture as part of a portfolio of marine adaptation options in the economic analysis of fisheries adaptation (Dey et al., 2016; Rosegrant et al., 2016). However, aquaculture is often costly and often involves support (training, management, and finance for infrastructure). Moreover, aquaculture is itself affected by climate change and thus may need to adapt (i.e. to be climate-smart). Porter et al. (2014) highlight that invertebrate fisheries and aquaculture are vulnerable to the impacts of ocean acidification, as well as to climate-induced changes in critical habitats. They find that this may require improved feeds, selective breeding for higher-temperature-tolerant strains, shifting to more tolerant species (whether for temperature or acidification), better site locations, and the use of integrated water resource management, as well as improved weather and climate services (for floods and weather extremes).

There are also options for diversifying livelihoods between sectors, notably for local fishing and port communities. Tourism is sometimes suggested as an alternative income source for fishing communities, but this can create its own challenges and exacerbate the climate change risk.

“Adaptation in response to experienced climate and its effects, without planning explicitly or consciously focused on addressing climate change. Also referred to as spontaneous adaptation.” Glossary II in IPCC, 2015.