Asia-Pacific Fishery Commission

The potential impact of climate change on fisheries and aquaculture in the Asian region

Category Ecosystems, habitats, environments & climate change

Sriskanthan, G. & Funge-Smith, S. J. (2011). The potential impact of climate change on fisheries and aquaculture in the Asian region. FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, Bangkok, Thailand. RAP Publication 2011/16, 41 pp. 

The 31st Session of the Asia-Pacific Fishery Commission (APFIC), convened in Jeju, Republic of Korea in September 2010, emphasized that adaptation and mitigation of the impacts of climate change related to fisheries and aquaculture is an important challenge for the region. The session recommended that APFIC should review the effects of climate change on fisheries and aquaculture in the region and provide advice to member countries on strategic planning for adaptation and mitigation measures for the sector. This review was commissioned in support of the workshop Implications of climate change on fisheries and aquaculture: challenges for adaptation and mitigation in the Asia-Pacific region, which took place from 24 to 26 May 2010 in Kathmandu, Nepal organized by the Asia-Pacific Fishery Commission (APFIC) in collaboration with the Directorate of Fisheries Development of the Government of Nepal. Support for the workshop was provided by the Regional Fisheries Livelihoods Programme for South and Southeast Asia (RFLP) and the Bay of Bengal Large Marine Ecosystem Programme (BOBLME).

Fisheries and aquaculture in Asia provide considerable trade, employment and food security and some of the densest rural populations of the world are found on coastlines and floodplains of the region. Impacts from climate change such as increasing ocean acidification, shifting fish distributions and more frequent cyclones may increase the negative impacts on capture fisheries which are already at their limits through over exploitation, coastal degradation and pollution. Productivity and viability in aquaculture operations are also expected to be negatively impacted by factors including higher sea water levels, flooding, increased competition for water resources and disease occurrence patterns.

Climate change is expected to contribute to increasing disruptions to aquatic and coastal systems upon which many millions of Asian people depend and it is vital that governments in the region understand the risks, identify vulnerable systems and develop adaptive strategies. Increased policy attention and financial resources for climate change adaptation and mitigation in the fisheries/aquaculture sector are urgently needed; and the marine fishery and aquaculture sectors need to be closely integrated into national climate change policies. It is therefore essential that the interactions between capture fisheries and aquaculture, along with other sectors such as agriculture and disaster management are integrated into the policy planning processes.

Despite the increasing global attention on climate change and projections of their likely effects, there remain serious gaps in coverage relating to the tropical regions of Asia and particularly the fishery and aquaculture sectors. This greatly constrains dialogues and effective planning for these important sectors in the region. This regional review is intended to provide a preliminary insight into the current state of knowledge and indicate some likely implications for the region.