Among the most pressing challenges for fisheries and the oceans is climate change. In Mexico there is a robust legal framework in this area, however, it is disjointed and it is necessary to strengthen it at the local level so that it fulfills its purpose as well as promoting action to address the impacts that this phenomenon will have on Mexican fisheries, and ensure a adequate adaptation in its handling.
In addition to the above, the country’s high vulnerability to the effects of climate change has had a strong impact on the sector, considered a source of employment and an economic engine for the country. The Mexican Confederation of Fishing and Aquaculture Cooperatives (CONMECOOP), indicates that fishing in our country represents culture, food and way of life for around 300,000 families that depend on this activity directly, and about 2 million more that do indirectly.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Mexico ranks 13th in fisheries production in the world, producing several species of high commercial value such as shrimp, red lobster, abalone, generous clam, octopus, tuna and sardine, among others.
Currently, the northwestern region of the country is the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change, since it is where most of the country’s fishing-aquaculture activity takes place. However, in the short-term scenarios (2050), the region of the Gulf of Mexico and Yucatan could see their fish production affected by the effects of climate change.
According to the analysis Climate change in Mexico: Public policy recommendations for the adaptation and resilience of the fishing and aquaculture sector, in which 47 institutions participated, for the year 2050 in the least favorable scenario, both coastal and industrial fishing and mariculture will present decreases in their productivity, due to the increase in temperature.
Similarly, the climate change scenarios for the year 2050 indicate that the current industrial fishing sites will have an increase in temperature of less than 1°C, despite which they will see decreases in primary productivity. By the year 2100, the fall in primary productivity could be more pronounced, confirm Juan Manuel Calderón, Director of Public Policies of the Fund for the Defense of the Environment (EDF) of Mexico and Leonardo Vázquez, Biologist, member of the World Society of Aquaculture and spokesperson for the technical group responsible for preparing the Climate Change Study in Mexico.
The study also reveals that in Mexico, more than 80% of the 25 most important fisheries could be seriously affected in the medium term by climate change and that around 13,000 coastal communities require attention in order to adapt to the effects of climate change, hence, public policies for adaptation are a priority in the short term.
“Climate change causes changes in the distribution and abundance of fish and invertebrate populations that support fisheries, this is added to other problems such as overfishing and conflicts due to unequal and uncertain access to resources,” highlights Juan Manuel Calderón .
In addition to this, the main oceanographic alterations derived from climate change that are predicted for the country are changes in sea temperature, an increase in the frequency and intensity of hurricanes and other climatological phenomena, sea level rise, sea acidification and decreased oxygen concentration.
From EDF they call for work to minimize or slow down the critical effects of climate change on fishing such as lower productivity, greater overfishing, loss of species, changes in the distribution of species, which forces fishermen to go further afield to look for resources, and migration of species to colder waters, climatic phenomena that do not allow the work of the sector to be carried out and changes or alterations in the fishing seasons.
“We propose a series of public policy recommendations for the adaptation of the fishing and aquaculture sector, through three sets of recommendations: priority, strategic and at the local level, maintaining a gender approach to guarantee the participation of women in governance and management. fisheries, among which the development of a National Program for Fisheries and Climate Change, with solid mechanisms of governance and citizen participation, stands out; the creation of a Risk Atlas for the fishing sector that incorporates environmental pressures and the adaptive capacity of communities and, in parallel, contingency plans to minimize economic and social impacts”, comments biologist Leonardo Vázquez.
Among the recommendations is added: increase investment in the generation of knowledge that allows efficient forecasting and guidance of management strategies, as well as investing in the technical training of specialists in climate change; create direct spaces for communication between the government and fishing communities to jointly face the challenges and promote inter-ministerial and multisectoral coordination, and the construction of coalitions that ensure cross-cutting coordination between agencies of the different levels of government, as well as between sectors and actors related to fishing and aquaculture.
Although Mexico has great potential, it is essential to promote the professionalization of the activity, multi-sector associativity and strategic planning with an ecosystem vision.
The Climate Change in Mexico Study: Public policy recommendations for the adaptation and resilience of the fishing and aquaculture sector, prepared by Impacto Coletivo por la Pesca y Acuacultura Mexicanas, EDF de México and other actors, aims to identify the most important impacts of climate change in fisheries and coastal communities, and propose a series of public policy recommendations aimed at effectively facing this challenge, as well as becoming a useful reference for decision makers in the design and implementation of a public policy agenda for the sustainable and resilient fisheries and aquaculture in the face of the climate crisis in Mexico, the spokespersons pointed out.