Impacts of climate change on fisheries: implications for food security in sub-Saharan Africa

This chapter seeks to examine the contribution of fisheries to poverty reduction and food security, and portray the potential impacts of climate change on the already strained resource in Sub-Saharan African (SSA) countries. Fish is a major source of food for the majority of poor and vulnerable communities in SSA. The sector also provides jobs to many men and women and is one of the most traded food commodities in the region. Fish trade supports economic growth in many developing countries in general and most SSA countries, in particular by providing an important source of cash revenue to service international debt, funding the operations of national governments, and importing food for domestic consumption, thus contributing to national food security and diversification of diets. However, the benefits gained from the sector are often overlooked in national economic planning. While the importance of fisheries to national economies is often understated, the impacts of climate change on the sector and its implications for the socio-economics of the coastal and riparian communities are difficult to ignore. This chapter provides a review of potential physical and biological impacts of climate change on fisheries by giving specific examples from SSA countries. In addition, the importance of fisheries to poverty reduction is demonstrated using empirical data from 42 SSA countries. It is clear that the higher the production level and per capita food supply from fishery products, the lower the prevalence of hunger. Nonetheless, the fisheries sector continues to lack sufficient attention by policy makers. This is mainly because well above half of the fish produced in SSA are supplied by small-scale or artisanal fisheries which are not accounted for in national statistics and thus their contribution to the economy and food security remains invisible. This chapter intends to uncover the invisibility of the sector and argues that fisheries should come at the forefront of the process of adaptation in policy formulation, and sufficient investments should be made to boost sustainable fish production in the region. It is recommended that increased and sustained investments in market development, fisheries governance and provision of economic incentive mechanisms are crucial in order to minimize the potential impacts of climate change on fisheries and food security and increase the resilience of many poor fisher communities in SSA.

Mohammed E. Y. & Uraguchi Z. B., 2013. Impacts of climate change on fisheries: implications for food security in sub-Saharan Africa. In: Global Food Security, Hanjra M. A. (ed.), pp. 113-136. Nova Science Publishers. Book chapter (subscription required).

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