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Small-scale fisheries offer strategies for resilience in the face of climate change

The Adapt, React, Cope (ARC) response framework.
(Image credit: Green et al.)
Mar 3 2021
Fellow, Research, Stanford, Students

Coastal communities at the forefront of climate change reveal valuable approaches to foster adaptability and resilience, according to a worldwide analysis of small-scale fisheries by Stanford University researchers.

Globally important for both livelihood and nourishment, small-scale fisheries employ about 90 percent of the world’s fishers and provide half the fish for human consumption. Large-scale shocks – like natural disasters, weather fluctuations, oil spills and market collapse – can spell disaster, depending on the fisheries’ ability to adapt to change. In an assessment of 22 small-scale fisheries that experienced stressors, researchers revealed that diversity and flexibility are among the most important adaptive capacity factors overall, while access to financial assets was not as important for individual households as it was at the community scale. The research was published Jan. 23 in the journal Climatic Change.

“The idea of assets not being essential at the household level is an empowering finding because we looked at a lot of places in developing nations without a lot of assets,” said lead author Kristen Green, a PhD student in the Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources (E-IPER) at Stanford’s School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences (Stanford Earth). “It shows we can invest in non-financial or non-asset-based adaptive mechanisms, and fishers can still adapt.”

Study co-authors include Josheena Naggea, a 2017 EDGE Fellow, Francisca Santana, a 2016 EDGE Fellow, Shannon Swanson, a 2016 SGF and 2020 Lieberman Fellow, and William Oestreich, a 2017 SGF Fellow.

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