Asia-Pacific Fishery Commission members stress need to prepare for climate change impacts

June 2, 2011 11:35

"Climate change may cause unprecedented disruptions to aquatic and coastal systems upon which many millions of Asian people depend. It is vital that governments in the Asia-Pacific region understand the risks, identify vulnerable systems and develop adaptive strategies", FAO's Simon Funge-Smith said today at the end of a meeting convened by the Asia-Pacific Fishery Commission (APFIC) with 48 representatives from government fisheries and climate change agencies, and international and non-governmental organizations, reports with reference to Asia-Pacific Fishery Commission.

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 vital that the interactions between capture fisheries and aquaculture with other sectors such as agriculture and disaster management are integrated into the policy planning processes," Funge-Smith added.

Recommendations of the workshop

Fisheries and aquaculture in Asia and the Pacific 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.

The way forward

The meeting stressed the need for adaptation and mitigation efforts from policy to grass roots level. Fisher and farmer community involvement will help lessen vulnerability as well as strengthen fisheries and aquaculture management in order to improve resilience to climate change.

The workshop heard that the understanding of the effects of climate change on fisheries and aquaculture remains limited, pointing to the need to increase monitoring and develop simple tools and approaches that would help prioritize efforts was emphasized. Adaptation to climate change by fisheries and aquauclture would be strongly promotoed by concrete actions to improve current management approaches. Action here would reduce stress on ecosystems and increase the resilience of operations and the livelihoods of millions of people depending upon them.

Fisheries and aquaculture industries can also contribute to climate change mitigation by inter alia more efficient fuel use or fishing methods, increased energy efficiency in aquaculture operations and pumping as well as the use of aquaculture species with a lower carbon footprint.

The workshop Implications of climate change on fisheries and aquaculture: challenges for adaptation and mitigation in the Asia-Pacific Region took place from 24 to 26 May in Kathmandu, and was organized by the Asia-Pacific Fishery Commission (APFIC) in collaboration with the Directorate of Fisheries Development of the government of Nepal. Support was provided by the Regional Fisheries Livelihoods Programme for South and Southeast Asia (RFLP) and the Bay of Bengal Large Marine Ecosystem Programme (BOBLME).

Countries in attendance were: Bangladesh, Cambodia, China PR, India, Indonesia, Japan, Lao PDR , Malaysia, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Timor Leste, Sri Lanka, Thailand, USA, VietNam. Regional Organizations particiapting were: The SouthEast Asian Fisheries Development Center (SEAFDEC), The Network of Aquaculture Centres in Asia (NACA), The WorldFish Center, Mekong River Commission (MRC), South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).

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