Fishing for the impacts of climate change in the marine sector: a case study
Van Putten, I and Metcalf, S and Frusher, S and Marshall, N and Tull, M, Fishing for the impacts of climate change in the marine sector: a case study, International Journal of Climate Change Strategies and Management, 6, (4) pp. 421-441. ISSN 1756-8692 (2014) [Refereed Article]
Purpose – This paper aims, using a case study-based research approach, to investigate the role of climate and non-climate drivers in shaping three commercial marine sectors: fishing, aquaculture and
marine tourism. Essential elements of climate change research include taking a whole of systems
approach, which entails a socio-ecological perspective, and considering climate challenges alongside
other challenges faced by resource users.
Design/methodology/approach – The analysis is based on information gained using in-depth
semi-structured interviews in a coastal community in southeast Australia. Even though climate drivers
differ, the economic sectors of this community are representative of many similar coastal communities
Findings – Results show that at a community level, people involved in, or associated with, marine
sectors are aware of climate change impacts on the marine environment. Even though many may not see
it as a pressing issue, the potential effect of climate change on business profitability was recognised.
Both the profitability of commercial fishing and aquaculture (oysters) was affected through mostly a
downward pressure on product price, while marine tourism profitability was mainly affected through
changes in the number of visitors.
Research limitations/implications – A case study approach is inherently case study-specific –
although generalities from complex system representation, built on local survey respondent
observation and knowledge of the combined and linked physical– biological-, social-, economic- and
governance drivers. This study shows the importance of a holistic approach; yet, researchers must also
consider all community sectors and cross-regional investigations to avoid future resource conflicts.
Practical implications – A number of positive impacts from climate-driven change, mainly from
windfall economic benefits of geographically relocated species, were reported for commercial- and
charter fishing. However, no positive impacts were reported for the aquaculture- and dive sector. In the
aquaculture sector, climate drivers were of great significance in industry participation, while
participation in commercial fishing was mainly driven by socio-economic factors.
Social implications – To ensure the combined marine sectors retain a viable component of coastal
communities’ economic focus, there is a need to understand what drives participation in the marine
sector, and what the role of climate change is in this. To fully understand the ramifications of climate
change in the marine environment, it is essential to understand its impacts across all marine sectors.
Originality/value – Combining the different domains with climate drivers allows for identification
and assessment of targeted adaptation needs and opportunities and sets up a comprehensive approach
to determine future adaptation pathways.