Artisanal Fisheries Impacts

From a WorldFish Center study: "Vulnerability of national economies to potential climate change impacts on fisheries... under IPCC scenario B2." (Allison et al. 2009)

Small-scale fisheries are critically important for food, income, and well-being for 100s of millions of people around the world. They are a vitally important interface between people and marine or aquatic resources, depending heavily on the health and resilience of these marine and aquatic ecosystems.

Climate change threatens these fisheries and the many people who depend upon them. Sea level rise, increased Extreme weather events, decreased predictability in seasons, and oceanographic changes (such as changes in salinity and water temperature) impact marine and aquatic ecosystems and fish stocks, the ability for fishers to go fishing, and the infrastructure of coastal and riverine communities, and even impact alternative sources of food and income. Fishing communities around the world are already feeling many of these impacts.

Impacts Ecosystems & Fish Fishing Practices Communities
Sea Level Rise
  • Loss of coastal habitat
  • Saltwater intrusion in freshwater habitat
  • Lower yield from coastal and freshwater fisheries
  • Loss of landing sites
  • Saltwater intrusion in agricultural fields
Changing Weather Patterns
  • Extreme weather events
  • Changes in seasonality
  • Rainfall changes
  • Change in productivity
  • Change in abundance and distribution of plankton & fish
  • Increased sedimentation on coral reefs & seagrass beds
  • Decreased good-weather days for fishing
  • Unpredictable fishing seasons
  • Lower yield from coastal and freshwater fisheries
  • Flooding or drought
  • Impacts on agriculture
  • Increased coastal erosion
  • Catastrophic weather events (hurricanes, storms)
Ocean Changes
  • Sea surface temperature
  • Salinity
  • Ocean acidification
  • Change in nutrient availability
  • Change in abundance and distribution of plankton & fish
  • Negative impacts on calcifying organisms (e.g., corals)
  • Lower yield from coastal & open-water fisheries

Resilience and adaptation

To adapt to ongoing and future impacts of climate change, small-scale fishing communities will need strengthened infrastructure, increase resilience to unpredictable fishing seasons and extreme weather events, and more secure access to coastal resources and to alternative livelihoods. Reducing other impacts to coastal and freshwater ecosystems (e.g., pollution, habitat destruction) could increase the resilience of these resources to climate change effects. Input and assistance from provincial, national, and international institutions are necessary to mitigate climate change impacts on these fisheries and the well-being of the communities that depend upon them.


  • Allison, E.H., et al. 2009. Vulnerability of national economies to the impacts of climate change on fisheries. Fish and Fisheries.
  • Williams and Rota. 2010. Impact of climate change on fisheries and aquaculture in the developing world and opportunities for adaptation. International Fund for Agricultural Development.
  • FAO 2009. The State of the World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2008. FAO.

Created By: Whitty, T.S. 2014. Small-scale and Artisanal Fisheries Research Network, Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation.

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Contact Information

Ocean Scientists for Informed Policy
Scripps Institution of Oceanography
University of California, San Diego
9500 Gilman Drive
La Jolla, CA 92083-0202