The following article appeared in India's leading daily newspaper, The Times of India, highlighting the work done by the team in India.
The original article can be viewed here.
KOCHI: Though fishermen communities are noting the dwindling numbers in their catch and changes in fish species, they have not related the same to climate change. This requires them to adapt and take up mitigation measures, says an ICAR study covering 300 households in two villages of Ochanthuruth and Njarackal in Ernakulam district.
The study is part of a global project on coastal vulnerability, funded by G-8 Research Council and Belmont Forum. Around 40 scientists from 12 countries are involved in the studies, which covers coastal villages in two panchayats (one each in Ernakulam and Thiruvananthapuram) in Kerala and two in Tamil Nadu.It found that the consequences of climate change in the long run have not been perceived well by the community. "We found that they understood the changes in temperatures, fish catch dwindling and understood that it was impacting their lives. However, they didn't know that it was part of a larger issue that needs to be addressed," said principal investigator Shyam S Salim, scientist, Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI), Kochi.Changes in fish catch composition over years were perceived as the impact of climate change by 48% of the respondents including 22% from Ochanthuruth and 26% from Njarackal.In the interview-based study, the fishermen said that "Many species like pomfrets, shark, ray fish, sardine and mackerel were only available in small quantity or not available now." Sardine, the most abundant species available for consumption for the community in the past, is also not readily available now for consumption. According to researchers, this magnifies the issue of fish scarcity thus affecting their livelihood.
Many women said that they have experienced a change in taste for the fishes available now, especially for sardine. They said that the sardine available now is having less amount of oil content and the availability of brood stock sardine vary between seasons.
Pointing out that the level of awareness is minimal despite having high functional literacy, the study indicates the fishermen's inability to correlate environmental changes consequent to climate change to their livelihood. The households covered were within 500m from the shoreline and in the interviews, the fisherfolk were asked to prioritize their perceptions on different factors including shift in spawning seasons.The catch reduction, increased effort in fishing, alterations in fishing seasons, non-availability of regular species, occurrence of invasive species, and temporal shift in the species availability, loss in craft and gear and depletion of farm inventories were among the other factors that were discussed.