Climate changes can impact fisheries and aquaculture directly, by influencing production quantities and efficiency, or indirectly, by influencing the market price of fish or the costs of goods and services required by the fisheries and aquaculture sectors.  

Whereas climate change will impact fisheries and aquaculture, fish and other aquatic foods can provide a pathway to improve the resilience of food, land and water systems while our climate is changing. Fish agrifood systems can provide sustainable solutions for climate mitigation and adaptation by supplying nutritious food with lower environmental impacts that can contribute to greenhouse gas reduction of the food system. 

FISH conducted research to address adaption and mitigation strategies to climate change to help build more resilient ecosystems for those who depend on small-scale aquaculture and fisheries. Research and innovation within FISH responded to the climate challenge, with knowledge, innovations and evidence to inform policy and investment decisions that build resilience of fish agri-food systems, in close cooperation with the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS). The strategy focused on two pathways

In adaptation, a partnership with James Cook University provided an innovative framework for assessing and enhancing adaptive capacity. It was further refined to integrate social organization and social networks for both adaptive and transformative actions in communities experiencing climate change impacts. 

In mitigation, progress was made with collation of knowledge on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from aquaculture, together with development of a new digital tool for assessing GHG emissions from aquaculture systems to be used for advising on low GHG growth and management options. 

Traditional climate change adaptation interventions have often focused on short-term coping mechanisms, but resilience requires enhancing the ability of small-scale actors in aquatic food systems and fisheries- and aquaculture-dependent communities to withstand shocks and cope with future climate risks. Critical policies, investments and social networks are instrumental to their success. FISH research and innovation identified four key components for climate-resilient aquatic food systems: 

Reduced vulnerabilities by reducing risk and exposure to hazards.

Climate change impacts on aquatic food systems place vulnerable communities with limited adaptive capacities at most risk. Policy and investment interventions require a positive bias in favor of the most vulnerable. Building resilient aquatic food systems requires a holistic approach that reduces exposure to climate hazards, increases ability to predict and capacity to respond to hazards, and ensures availability of viable livelihood opportunities 

Increased ability to predict or anticipate climate hazards.

Increasing access to climate information and quality forecasts tailored to aquatic food systems can empower producers and other value chain actors to manage risks. However, contextualized services for aquatic food systems using timely and reliable climate information are scarce. To begin addressing this, FISH collaborated with partners in Bangladesh and India to improve climate information services for fish farmers, and scaled these services in both countries 

Enhanced capacity to respond to climate hazards.

The ability of aquatic food system actors to predict climate hazards must be complemented with enhanced capacity to respond to or minimize climate-induced disaster risks. In Bangladesh, for example, FISH and partners trained key value chain actors, who have further disseminated the knowledge to fish farmers and support agents (fish farm managers, hatchery managers, fish breeding professionals), on managing climate risks. To scale this further, FISH is collaborating with other projects and partners. 

Increased availability and accessibility of viable livelihood opportunities.

An inclusive, sustainable and cost-effective way of building resilience of fisheries- and aquaculture-dependent communities is identifying and increasing access to viable livelihood opportunities, many of which can be positive for nature and people. FISH explored a diversity of innovations with promise, including integrated rice-fish systems, genetically improved tilapia strains, climate risk management practices for fish and shrimp farms in the Mekong Region, and low carbon tilapia farm management in Egypt.

Download the brief “Accelerating climate resilience of aquatic food systems” here.