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Climate Change Affecting Coastal Areas, National Mission to be Launched on Climate Resilient Aquaculture and Fisheries

From flooding to shoreline changes to disease outbreak, coastal lives hit hard due to climate change, say experts.

Aysha Anam
Photo caption: University students, whose ideas on lifestyle for environment (LiFE) exhibited at the conclave, showing the compilation of their ideas along with dignitaries at the event. These ideas were selected from a nationwide contest.
Photo caption: University students, whose ideas on lifestyle for environment (LiFE) exhibited at the conclave, showing the compilation of their ideas along with dignitaries at the event. These ideas were selected from a nationwide contest.
From flooding to shoreline changes to disease outbreaks, a barrage of challenges is posing a serious threat to coastal lives. A brainstorming session on India’s preparedness for adapting to climate change in marine fisheries, held at the ongoing international climate conclave on marine fisheries, has underlined that coastal communities are the most vulnerable to climate change.

Increased frequency of cyclones and subsequent storm surges and coastal flooding are causing socio-economic insecurity among the coastal people, it observed. 

Climate Change and Coastal Areas: Waterborne diseases

Waterborne diseases are on the rise in coastal areas owing to storm surges and flooding, said Dr Grinson George of the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI). He said that the rising sea surface temperatures contribute to an increased microbial load in the water, posing a looming threat to human health along the coastal belt. 

While the emergence of invasive species poses a threat to the native resources, unwanted blooms occurring in increased frequency cause mariculture activities, disrupting the livelihood of traditional fishermen and fish farmers in the region, Dr George added. 

Status of Indian fisheries with respect to climate change and adaptation strategies was discussed in the brainstorming session, which was chaired by Dr E Vivekanandan, eminent marine scientist and advisor to the Bay of Bengal Programme Inter-Governmental Organisation (BOBP-IGO).

 

Call to set up National Mission on Climate Resilient Aquaculture and Fisheries 

The meeting called for the establishment of a National Mission on Climate Resilient Aquaculture and Fisheries to coordinate all the efforts and plans towards reducing the impacts of the risks in the sector. Delivering a lead talk on priority areas of research and development for climate resilient fisheries, Dr C N Ravishankar, Director of ICAR-Central Institute of Fisheries Education (CIFE), Mumbai said predictive climate models tailored to species and ecosystem have to be developed. 

Community Awareness About Coastal Areas

He stressed on the need for intensive community awareness initiatives to make the coastal people properly understand the gravity of the climate emergency. “Promoting greener fishing practices with fuel-efficient and alternate fuel solutions are also equally important”, he said, adding that the development of a long-term plan for decarbonisation of the fishing and aquaculture sector is the need of the hour.

In addition to ecosystem studies, research on the status of socio-economics of the fishermen community in the wake of increased frequency of extreme weather conditions and natural disasters, Dr Ravisankar added.

Dr Tune Usha of the National Centre for Coastal Research (NCCR) said that coastal hazards and vulnerability should be assessed using remote sensing and GIS technologies.

 

Development and application of technologies for climate resilience, and knowledge sharing and capacity development for climate proofing were also discussed in the brainstorming session. The three-day conclave is being organised under the leadership of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), in collaboration with the Department of Fisheries, Government of India, and the BOBP-IGO.

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