A new study recently published in the journal Nature Communications has warned of the effects of climate change on fishing and agriculture in tropical coastal communities, which are highly dependent on these economic activities to sustain their economies.
According to the study, in which the Institut de Ciències del Mar (ICM-CSIC) and a large group of experts from centres around the world have participated, these communities could face major food losses due to climate change. Until now, large-scale predictions had brought the problem to the table, although the data provided were not very informative at the local level, where the socio-economic impacts occur.
“This work proves the suitability of using predictive models at smaller scales to improve the management of local communities,” explains in this regard Marta Coll, researcher at the ICM-CSIC and one of the authors of the study.
This is the first work assessing the impact of climate change on coastal communities in the tropics, which face more economic difficulties than their counterparts in temperate zones. Specifically, the research focuses on 72 communities in five countries within the Indo-Pacific region: Indonesia, Madagascar, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines and Tanzania.
To carry out the study, responses from more than 3,000 face-to-face household surveys in the regions studied were analysed. The results were cross-checked with modelled projections of crop yield losses and fish catches under both a high (SSP5-8.5) and a low (SSP1-2.6) emissions scenario.
As a result, the team realised that while not all communities are equally vulnerable, both within and between countries, those with lower socio-economic status are particularly exposed to the most negative impacts on natural resources as a result of climate change.
Fisheries, the most affected sector
According to the paper published now, the potential losses are greater for the fisheries sector than for the agricultural sector. Nevertheless, many of the communities surveyed would face substantial losses of both agricultural and fisheries products under a high emissions scenario.
In contrast, in a low-emissions scenario, fewer communities would experience losses in both the agriculture and fisheries sectors, which highlights some of the many benefits of climate change mitigation.
The global average temperature is currently 1.1 degrees Celsius higher than pre-industrial times and, if things continue as they are now, a temperature increase of about 3 degrees Celsius is projected by the end of the century. This will lead to a higher frequency and intensity of droughts or marine heat waves, among other extreme weather events that could have a strong impact on primary sector activities.