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Climate change and small-scale fisheries: A climate risk management perspective for West Africa

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This factsheet outlines the main aspects from a global study and an underlying review on the management of climate change-induced losses and damages in small-scale fisheries in West African member countries to the Sub-Regional Fisheries Commission (SRFC).


Small-scale commercial and subsistence fisheries contribute significantly to income, livelihoods, and food security for hundreds of millions of people, particularly in Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and the coastal zones of Least Developed Countries (LDCs). More than two-thirds of the partner countries supported by Germany’s development cooperation are island or coastal nations. In these countries, 90 % of the people working in the fishing sector are artisanal fishers and small-scale aquaculture (including mariculture) farmers.2

Climate change presents key challenges for small-scale fisheries and mariculture and is projected to have significant impacts on the lives of people dependent on these activities. Changes in ocean temperature and chemistry are already affecting the distribution and abundance of marine organisms. In addition, recent climate projections suggest a significant increase in the frequency and/or magnitude of extreme weather events such as storms and floods.

The precise magnitude of future impacts of climate change on fisheries – in particular small-scale fisheries – are still poorly understood, since they involve numerous interactions with fragile and complex ecosystems that are often already affected by other stressors such as overfishing or pollution. Assessing and managing risks to increase re - silience and decrease poverty, inequality, and food insecurity are thus priorities of international cooperation.