Perceptions of climate and ocean change impacting the resources and livelihood of small-scale fishers in the South Brazil Bight

Abstract

Coastal fishing communities are closely linked to the biological and ecological characteristics of exploited resources and the physical conditions associated with climate and ocean dynamics. Thus, the human populations that depend on fisheries are inherently exposed to climate variability and uncertainty. This study applied an ethno-oceanographic framework to investigate the perceptions of fishers on climate and ocean change to better understand the impacts of climate change on the coastal fishing communities of the South Brazil Bight. Seven coastal fishing communities that cover the regional diversity of the area were selected. Fishers were interviewed using a semi-structured questionnaire. The results suggest that fishers have detected climate-related changes in their environment such as reduced rainfall, increased drought events, calmer sea conditions, increases in air and ocean temperatures, changes in wind patterns and shoreline erosion. The perceptions of the fishers were compared to the available scientific data, and correlations were found with rainfall, wind speed and air and ocean temperatures. New hypotheses were raised based on the perceptions of fishers about sea level, coastal currents and sea conditions such as the hypothesis that the sea has become calmer. These perceived changes have positive and negative effects on the yields and livelihoods of fishers. The present work is the first evaluation of the perceptions of fishers on climate and ocean change and brings new understandings of climate-fishery-human interactions as well as provides inputs for future adaptation plans.

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Acknowledgements

We thank CNPq for the scholarship, and the GULLS project (Belmont Forum research initiative) for the opportunity to interact and collaborate with international experts. Sincere gratitude to all fishers who kindly collaborated with the study.

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Thanks are given to FAPESP for funding the research.

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Correspondence to Ivan Machado Martins.

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Martins, I.M., Gasalla, M.A. Perceptions of climate and ocean change impacting the resources and livelihood of small-scale fishers in the South Brazil Bight. Climatic Change 147, 441–456 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10584-018-2144-z

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