This section presents interviews with small-scale coastal fishers about their observations of climate change, and the impact of these changes on fishing activities and livelihoods.
Climate change has set in motion a series of large-scale shifts in marine ecosystems with significant impacts on fisheries and fishing livelihoods. Warming water temperatures modify ocean circulation, primary productivity, species distribution, and fish migration patterns. Fish are very sensitive to minor changes in the environment, so when the water warms, they move. Many species are migrating northward or further offshore to cooler waters, creating mismatches in the marine food web and changing the presence of fish in coastal waters. Changing seasons and increasingly unpredictable weather also interfere with yearly fishing rhythms. All of these effects are closely tied to cultural and socioeconomic changes in fishing livelihoods.
Most research to date has focused on the biophysical changes in the oceans, with little attention to the people that depend on marine ecosystems. But fishers are at the front lines of the climate crisis, and their lived experiences paint a clear picture of the implications of a changing climate on our seafood resources and coastal communities.
The place-specific nature of small-scale coastal fisheries makes fisherfolk particularly attuned to patterns of environmental change. Fishing communities possess a rich base of knowledge, passed down through generations and based on year-round observation of the environment. Given the complex and often localized nature of climate-driven changes, fishers' knowledge has key role to play in assessing and coping with the impacts of climate change.