Thursday, June 27 • 15:00 - 16:30
Small-scale fishing communities in the front lines of climate risk: learning from extreme weather events. (2)

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Chaired by: Monnereau, I., Kalikoski, D., Charles, A. & Turner, R.

Small-scale fishing communities in the front lines of climate risk: learning from extreme weather events in Asia and the Caribbean
Iris Monnereau, Daniela Kalikoski, Anthony Charles, Rachel Turner

This session takes as a point of departure that small-scale fishing communities are the first to experience the consequences of changing storm patterns and intensities, which are associated with climate change. In the past year, South Asia has undergone two catastrophic cyclones: Cyclone Ockhi, that caused a massive loss of fisher lives and major damage along the south-west coast of India, and Cyclone Gaja that has just hit the south-east coast of the same country, with devastating results. The Caribbean too is affected badly by annual hurricanes with Hurricane Maria and Irma causing massive destruction of the fisheries sector in, respectively, Dominica and Antigua and Barbuda. From 4 March 2019 onwards, the landfall of Cyclone Idai and subsequent widespread flooding led to significant damage to livelihoods, infrastructures and assets in Mozambique, with extensive damage to fisher folks’ assets.

Natural disasters are often followed by a poorly planned fisheries emergency response leading to another disaster: over capitalisation, increased competition for resources and unfavourable distribution of resources. There is also often a lack of incorporation of the fisheries sector into damage and loss assessments resulting in limited access to relief funds after disaster for the region.

Recent discussion of the impacts of hurricanes on the fisheries sector in the Caribbean (2018 Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute Conference) concluded that more work needs to be done to prevent and mitigate impacts such as : the ICT training of fisherfolk to enhance early warning, safety-at-sea training, and Post-Disaster Damage and Needs assessment training for fisheries officers and DRM personal. These actions are needed because the fisheries sector is often considered too complex and is data deficient and is therefore overlooked by humanitarian actors in post-disaster assessments which leads to lack of funds for rehabilitation in comparison to other sectors. Effective adaptation support is also limited by knowledge gaps relating to the needs and choices of fishers, fishing households and wider communities, and the potential opportunities for insurance to support fisherfolk.

Fishers in both South Asia and the Caribbean and Africa are generally used to living with storms and their impacts, as these are part of regular climatic patterns. But with the process of climate change, storm risks are starting to change, with important implications for disaster preparedness and response. Not only are knowledge systems (local and scientific) struggling to deal with new meteorological patterns and generate timely alerts, higher intensity storms also challenge the performance of communication and warning systems, evacuation facilities, and modes of disaster response.

Fishing is one of the most risky professions on the planet (ILO ref.), and it is clear that fishing communities, which are by necessity located along the shoreline, generally suffer first risk of being affected by heavy winds, rain and water surges. It is for this reason that the Voluntary Guidelines on Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries devote a chapter to disaster risks and climate change, enjoining governments and other societal parties to pay special attention to disaster preparedness and emergency response. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDG 1, 2, SDG 13 and SDG 14) too are relevant in this regard.

This session takes the experiences of South Asia and the Caribbean as starting point for a larger debate on fishers and climate resilience of the poor and those in vulnerable situations. The session will include two panels presenting both scientific papers and recent project activities, plus a round table discussion. The session is associated with current work (FAO/SMU etc.) on the nexus between poverty and climate change, with the work of the Community Conservation Research Network on coastal communities’ role in environmental stewardship and sustainable livelihoods, and with ICSF’s focus on impacts and responses to climate change. It hopes to contribute to new research endeavors and the international policy debate.

Panel 2: Adaptation of small-scale fisheries to storm and extreme weather events:

Resilience and adaptation in an era of increasing climate risks and extreme events
Florence Poulain

Considering early warning systems for hazards in small-scale fisheries
Patrick McConney

Climate adaptation and extreme weather in Dominica’s fishing communities 
Rachel Turner & Jullan Defoe

Investigating the role of the weather in fishers’ decision making: a case study from Newlyn, England
Nigel Sainsburry

Mini-round table 2


Florence Poulain

Fisheries and Aquaculture Officer, FAO
Social scientist at FAO Fisheries and Aqualculture Department, policy branch. Working on resilience, climate change and variability, adaptation

Thursday June 27, 2019 15:00 - 16:30
REC A2.07 Roeters Eiland Complex, University of Amsterdam