The project has focused on five case studies that are important from a livelihood and/or food security perspective: Catfish farming in the Mekong Delta of Vietnam; milkfish farming in the Philippines; low intensity shrimp farming in India; improved extensive shrimp farming in Vietnam; and culture based fisheries in seasonal reservoirs in Sri Lanka. The project has mapped farmer perceptions of climate change through an extensive series of stakeholder consultations and developed climate change scenarios for the case study areas through local downscaling of mainstream climate change models. All of these systems are at substantial risk from climate change due to impacts such as sea level rise, saline intrusion into freshwater reaches of river systems, changes in rainfall patterns and more frequent storms and other extreme events.
As the project is drawing to a close, a Regional Workshop on Impacts of Climate Change in Fisheries and Aquaculture was held in Bangkok from 14-16 May to share the findings with senior policy makers from the region, gather feedback on the recommendations and to facilitate exchange of experience. The workshop was attended by the representatives of twelve countries as well as the Mekong River Commission, Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center, WorldFish Center, the Secretariat of the Pacific Community and FAO. The workshop was opened with an inaugural address by Mr Erik Svedahl
, Chargé d’affaires of the Norwegian Embassy in Bangkok.
Mr Svedahl noted that “The Aqua-Climate Project is probably the first and the most extensive on-site study that has been carried out in the region so far. The Aqua-Climate Project departs from other studies which have not explicitly considered communities and individual famers’ adaptation capacities to climate change???.
“I wish to emphasize here the need to continue this type of studies pioneered by the Aqua-Climate Project to better understand and manage the risks from climate change impacts in the region???, he said. “One key message that Norway will take to the Rio+20 conference next month, is that climate-resilient food production should be encouraged in both agriculture and fisheries???.
The outcomes of the project case studies were presented at the workshop. Participants were invited to discuss the findings, which included proposed adaptation strategies for each farming system, and to comment on a related series of briefs and extension materials separately targeting policy makers, scientists and farmer groups. “I appreciate that there are different styles of briefing material available for different stakeholder groups???, said Dr Sommano Phounsavath, Senior Fishery Officer from the Laos PDR Department of Livestock and Fisheries. Mr Svedahl noted that “the guidelines for policy makers will be of significant assistance in framing appropriate regional adaptation strategies and framing of policy...the project is well poised to contribute to short and long-term adaptive strategy recommendations to address environmental and social changes that are likely to arise from climate change impacts???.
Participants also gave a presentation on their own climate change activities, which were discussed in a plenary session Chaired by Dr Brit Fisknes, Senior Advisor to NORAD’s Department of Climate, Environment and Natural Resources. It was clear from the presentations that most countries and institutions see climate change as a high priority issue of great concern. However, clearly distinguishing climate change impacts from natural variability and other factors was acknowledged as difficult, since the effects are gradual and changes require long-term monitoring to quantify. While many climate change adaptation measures require a significant investment and a long lead in time to implement, convincing policy makers with a short term planning horizon to act on long-term threats was seen as difficult.
As the first study of its kind in aquaculture, the Aquaclimate Project was seen to have provided a catalyst for initiating research on climate change impacts in aquaculture for the region. “The project methodology is a very useful contribution???, said Dr Peter Degen, Chief Technical Advisor to the Mekong River Commission’s Fisheries Programme. A multi-disciplinary approach had been developed integrating remote sensing and climate modeling together with a very strong social science and stakeholder engagement component. “The project has generated substantial methodologies and results that will be carried through to WorldFish Scientists???, said Dr Bill Collis. “The methodology developed under the project would be a useful model for conducting similar studies for Malaysian aquaculture???, said Md. Fariddudin bin Othman from Malaysia’s Fisheries Research Institute, a sentiment echoed by participants from Nepal, India and China.
National partners indicated that through their participation in the project they had gained valuable insight into approaches for conducting such an investigation. “Participation in the project has greatly assisted in our understanding of methodologies to conduct such an investigation???, said Dr A.G Ponniah, Director of India’s Central Institute for Brackishwater Aquaculture. “This will be used in our own institute’s work???.
Workshop participants indicated that there was an ongoing need for countries and institutions in the region to network, share their experience and research findings and to develop common methodologies to facilitate the integration and analysis of data collected by different research groups. NACA will facilitate further regional research cooperation through its ongoing Climate Change Programme and through formation of institutional partnerships and alliances with like-minded organisations.
The case study reports, policy briefs and other publications from the project will be published on the NACA website in due course. For more information about the project, please visit the Aquaclimate Project webpage
On behalf of the project partners, NACA wishes to express its thanks to NORAD for providing the funding to make this project possible.