Climate risk to fishers more than farmers

Fisheries across tropical regions are at greater risk from climate change than agriculture. -EPA

A study has shown fisheries across tropical regions are at greater risk from climate change than agricultural industries, with potentially dire consequences in poorer nations.

Researchers from James Cook University's Centre for Coral Reef studies surveyed fisheries and agricultural areas in five tropical countries.

They found that by the year 2100, up to 40 per cent of some fishable biomass areas in the ocean could drop, as well as more than half of suitable growing days per year for agricultural industries.  

Professor Joshua Cinner, lead author of the study, said impacts and policy planning rarely consider changes to agriculture and fisheries simultaneously. 

He said tropical regions and those who inhabit them are expected to suffer losses as the effects of climate change become more apparent.

"These larger-scale assessments gloss over how households and even entire communities will be affected by climate change," said Prof Cinner. 

A total of 28 researchers investigated potential impacts of climate change across 72 coastal communities in Indonesia, Madagascar, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines and Tanzania. 

People from more than 3000 households were surveyed to ascertain projections of crop yield across fisheries and agriculture.

Researchers found that, while vulnerability may vary in communities across different countries, lower socio-economic regions are particularly exposed to severe impacts and have higher dependence on natural resources.

Which means those areas will be hit harder.

"We found that the potential losses are expected to be higher in the fisheries sector than agriculture overall, but the big problem is that two thirds of the communities we studied will experience potential losses to both fisheries and agriculture simultaneously, under a high emissions scenario," Prof Cinner said.

"It really does show how much the lives of very many ordinary people hinge on decisions they have no control over and highlights the moral responsibilities that decision makers have towards them."