Climate Change Adaptation in the Eastern Caribbean Fisheries Sector


Since 2011 there has been a huge increase in the abundance of floating Sargassum mats in the tropical Atlantic ocean. This has resulted in mass influxes of the seaweed into the Eastern Caribbean. Sargassum mats are an important component of the pelagic marine ecosystem, as they provide refuge to many species including juveniles of commercial fish. However, massive sargassum influxes cause damage to fishing gear, boat engines and other fishing assets, and have clogged fishing harbours and mooring sites across the Eastern Caribbean. They also have impacted fisheries directly, decreasing landings of important staple species such as flyingfish. The accumulation of rotting sargassum along the coast causes a number of social and public health problems, and it damages the tourism industry, which is crucial to these countries. In contrast, some fish species appear to have become more abundant and thus, in some cases, some small-scale fishers might be partially benefiting from this increase in sargassum mats. Still, the overall balance is negative.

The CC4FISH project is working towards tackling Sargassum influx from a broad perspective, which encompasses improved monitoring, shared information network and the development of local Sargassum-derived products. Hence, the project has provided:

  • Ecological modelling to assess the impacts of sargassum influxes on key fish species.
  • Production of a Sargassum Outlook Bulletin to predict sargassum influxes every two months, to better prepare government and fisheries sector responses before each potential massive influx event.
  • A Sargassum Uses Guide detailing all the pros and cons of the fourteen identified uses of sargassum and also aimed to improve food safety and economic benefits through its exploitation. Click here to access the publication.