Initiatives to strengthen climate change adaptation in Africa – Cape Town

Cape Town, Daniel Pauly and Rashid Sumaila. Photos by Vicky Lam.

Cape Town, Daniel Pauly and Rashid Sumaila. Photos by Vicky Lam.

By Vicky Lam – Research Associate & Program Manager, Nereus Program, University of British Columbia.

In late August, Professors Daniel Pauly, Rashid Sumaila and Dr. Vicky Lam, as representatives of the Global Fisheries Cluster in UBC’s Institute for Oceans and Fisheries, were invited by the World Bank to attend a technical consultation meeting in Cape Town, South Africa. The plan was to discuss a potential project that aims at understanding the likely impacts of climate change on fisheries in African countries.

The meeting was attended by a variety of participants including representatives from the World Bank, staff from the Food and Agriculture Organization, fisheries specialists from different regions of Africa, and several fisheries experts from other regions of the world. Other objectives of this technical consultation meeting were to engage in a discussion of potential key partners, gather existing knowledge on the biological and socioeconomic impacts on African fisheries, identify knowledge gaps, and gather recommendations and advice for this potential project.

On the first day of the meeting, Daniel, Rashid and I shared our research and experiences during the session on “Existing work on climate change and marine fisheries relevant for Sub-Saharan Africa.” We presented our previous and current work related to the impacts of climate change on the biological, ecological, economic and social aspects of fisheries.

Daniel talked about ocean warming and its effect on fish and fisheries, with emphasis on West and Northwest Africa. In his talk, he presented the current reconstructed catch status for West African fisheries, poleward migration of fishes and the impacts on fisheries under climate change. He also highlighted his recent study that proposed that the growth capacity of gills limits the growth of fish body size, which results in the shrinkage in fish when the ocean gets warmer.

I followed with a presentation on the projected socioeconomic impacts of climate change on fisheries revenues, number of fisheries-related jobs, fish supply, and protein supply in West African countries through fisheries. My talk was based on my previous studies in this region.

I also presented a vulnerability assessment study for the West African countries based on the framework reported by Edward Allison and his colleagues in 2009. At the end of my talk, I summarized the major challenges to fisheries under climate change in this region and offered recommendations to mitigate and adapt to these changes.

Rashid took the stage in the final part of this session. In his presentation, he pointed out the impacts of climate change on food security and human well-being, and the measures for coping with and adapting to these changes, including the idea of putting in place a climate endowment fund.

According to Rashid, the climate endowment fund would ask the question: What is the capital that a country, region or the world will need to have in order to replace the loss in gross revenues that is likely to be incurred as a result of climate change? It would then call on individuals, businesses, and governments to seed such a fund in preparation for what is to come.

Lastly, he provided a sketch of the ongoing work by members of the OceanCanada Partnership and the Global Fisheries Cluster that can contribute to this World Bank project.

Rashid Sumaila and Daniel Pauly in Cape Town, August 2017.

Rashid Sumaila and Daniel Pauly in Cape Town, August 2017.

The Global Fisheries Cluster’s presentations generated much positive feedback from the group of participants. They showed great interest in the approaches to understanding the climate change impacts on oceans and fisheries. They also had questions on the details of the modeling approach, particularly on incorporating management measures in the model, assessing the uncertainty of different parts of the models, including gender disaggregation in the social impact analysis, and the inclusion of ocean acidification in the models.

The work of the “UBC group” provided a great starting point and a preliminary framework for the further discussion of the approaches that may be adopted by the proposed World Bank report.

On the last day of the meeting, I led a discussion on how to choose the appropriate vulnerability assessment framework for the proposed World Bank study. Daniel also gave a brief talk on extreme weather conditions and climate change, which generated a lot of interest among the participants.

I found the meeting to be productive and I am positive that it would contribute to the future works on understanding climate change impacts on oceans and fisheries and how to adapt to these impacts in Africa.


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