Step 1. Projecting Future Fishery Conditions

To develop an effective, climate-resilient, sustainable fishery management plan that balances conservation and utilization of marine resources over the short- and long-term, stakeholders first have to understand the potential climate change-driven impacts and challenges in their system. Doing so can help stakeholders to develop reasonable goals and benchmarks for management and facilitates adaptive progress toward these goals. Projecting future fishery conditions informs the thinking and decision-making at each subsequent step of the FISHE process.

To understand the potential influence of climate change on this hypothetical fishery the local managers, government representatives and fishing community collaboratively worked together to collect and combine information to develop a Climate Impacts Profile of the fishery. Using expert knowledge of the local fishery and projected climate change impacts in the region and bordering countries from the literature, they were able to describe potential and likely changes in species mix, distribution, and abundance in their system. This profile indicates that, in the short- to medium-term, all of the current fishery targets are projected to be less abundant in the nearshore waters because of climate change-associated habitat loss and shifts in water temperature and nutrient inputs. However, on the upside, emergent fisheries are also expected to begin appearing in the near-term (<5 years) and sustain into the long-term (>10 years). See greater detail below:  

Climate Impact Profile

Projected climate-driven marine ecosystem changes:

Expected alterations to the physical environment include increases in water temperature and freshwater input from increased storm activity, resulting in substantial changes in salinity, temperature, pH and dissolved oxygen. These changes will affect both the biology and ecological interactions of the fished targets and associated species community; as well as the resilience of the ecosystem.

Likely fishery-relevant impacts of those changes:

The nearshore multispecies fishery targets species found in mangroves, seagrass beds and throughout the coral reef system. The majority of the targets include several species of groupers, snappers, grunts, jacks and wrasses; all targeted with a set net. Based on the large range of life history strategies of the fished targets, and their use of all bodies of water: open ocean (within and outside the country’s jurisdiction), nearshore ecosystems (e.g., mangroves, seagrass beds and coral reefs) and local estuaries, there is a high likelihood that all will be influenced by climate change.

Species featured:
  • Groupers, snappers, grunts, wrasses and jacks
  • Emergent fish and invertebrate targets are likely
Brief Intro to the fisheries:

Local fishing communities’ fish year-round and fishing is currently the only source of protein and the only livelihood option in the area. Set nets are the main fishing gear, fishers move seasonally between ecosystems to encounter fish targets. All vessels are small, and the majority are wind powered. Fishing activities decrease during the stormy season, as it is not safe to travel on the ocean when swell or wind activity is substantial. Historically, these communities have experience with hurricanes and periodic decreases in fish availability; in most of these instances the communities utilize other fish resources that are not generally targeted.

Climate-driven impacts on fisheries:

Projected temperature/nutrient shifts in the waters of this region are expected to result in loss of habitat and a corresponding decrease in the abundance and presence of all targets in the shallow nearshore waters. In addition, potential shifts of groupers and snapper to deeper waters and movement of all targets towards sub-tropical waters outside the current range of the community fishing vessel capacity is projected.

A regional gyre system exists that brings sub-tropical waters and connects this island country to other countries. It is thus possible that species from sub-tropical neighboring regions may be able to establish in the waters of this island nation.  

Potential metrics/ indicators of those changes and impacts:
  • Average water temperature
  • Phytoplankton levels
  • Salinity in the estuaries
  • Average fishing days (community identified metric)