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Vulnerability of freshwater and estuarine fish habitats in the tropical Pacific to climate change


Gehrke, PC and Sheaves, MJ and Terry, JP and Boseto, DT and Ellison, JC and Figa, BS and Wani, J, Vulnerability of freshwater and estuarine fish habitats in the tropical Pacific to climate change, Vulnerability of Tropical Pacific Fisheries and Aquaculture to Climate Change, Secretariat of the Pacific Community, JD Bell, JE Johnson and AJ Hobday (ed), Noumea, pp. 369-431. ISBN 9789820004719 (2011) [Research Book Chapter]


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Copyright 2011 Secretariat of the Pacific Community.

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People living in the tropical Pacific have a strong affinity for rivers - an identity that is reflected in local languages1. On Kadavu Island in Fiji, for example, river names describe many of the traditional fishing and subsistence activities, such as: Nubunisici - 'snail pool' Waidoidoi -'doi stream' Wainituva - 'tuva stream' a pool where edible freshwater snails (sici) can be found; where the bark of doi trees, a buckthorn variety (Alphitonia zizyphoides), can be used to tie bundles of fish together; source of tuva or derris vine (Derris trifoliata) roots yielding a poison used to stun and collect fish and prawns; Nubuniura - 'pool of prawns' Macrobrachium spp.; Waikana - 'food stream' a river known to contain edible species, a rich source of food. Throughout the tropical Pacific, from the large rivers in Papua New Guinea (PNG), to the small streams on high islands, freshwater fish and invertebrates contribute to food security. Although the quantities harvested for subsistence are still poorly quantified2,3 (Chapter 10), awareness of the reliance on freshwater and estuarine resources is increasing. There is concern that the freshwater and estuarine habitats in the region that support these subsistence fisheries, by providing areas and structures where fish and invertebrates can reproduce, feed, recruit, grow and migrate, may be vulnerable to climate change. Consequently, the rich culture of people who use these rivers as part of their daily lives may also be at risk. In this chapter, we describe the nature of freshwater and estuarine habitats in the tropical Pacific, their role in supporti ng fisheries, and the critical requirements needed to maintain them. We then evaluate the vulnerability of freshwater and estuarine habitats to climate change and consider the interactions between the effects of a changing climate and existing impacts on these habitats. We conclude by assessing the constraints to adaptation, the gaps in knowledge to be filled by future research, and the management interventions needed to help maintain the resilience of freshwater and estuarine habitats in the face of climate change.

Item Details

Item Type:Research Book Chapter
Keywords:Tropical Pacific, rivers, freshwater, subsistence fisheries, estuarine habitat, climate change, global warming, constraints to adaptation
Research Division:Environmental Sciences
Research Group:Environmental management
Research Field:Environmental management not elsewhere classified
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Management of Antarctic and Southern Ocean environments
Objective Field:Assessment and management of Antarctic and Southern Ocean ecosystems
UTAS Author:Ellison, JC (Associate Professor Joanna Ellison)
ID Code:74355
Year Published:2011
Deposited By:Geography and Environmental Studies
Deposited On:2011-11-23
Last Modified:2014-11-24
Downloads:249 View Download Statistics

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