NCEAS Project 12686

SNAP: Planning for the impacts of land-­uses on coral reef fisheries and livelihoods under different climate scenarios

  • Hugh P. Possingham
  • Christopher J. Brown
  • Carissa J. Klein

ActivityDatesFurther Information
Working Group23rd—25th July 2014Participant List  

About half of the world’s population lives near the sea.1 An increase in coastal population and economic development (e.g., agriculture, fishing) has led to increased pressures on coastal and marine natural resources. This problem is pervasive across the globe, with examples from developed nations like Australia where human activities have caused a 20-50% decline in coral cover on the Great Barrier Reef over the past two decades,2 to developing nations like India where over 40% of mangroves have been converted to agriculture or urban development.3 These issues are particularly acute when people’s livelihoods dependupon the natural resources under threat, such as fisheries, which sustain some of the world’s poorest people.4,5 Our proposed project will focus on how land-use changes and management interventions impact fisheries and livelihoods in regions of high dependence on coastal resources. In Melanesia, for example, increased demands for cash income and material goods, coupled with growing populations and access to markets, have led to increased pressure on coastal and marine resources. Rural communities must meet annual payments for school fees and government levies, as well as support intermittent religious obligations and health care costs. As a consequence, coastal residents are increasing the frequency and intensity of harvesting fish and commercially valuable invertebrates as a source of incomto meet these financial challenges.6 At the same time, local land owners are increasing the area of land under commercial agriculture, as well as becoming increasingly willing to grant leases for logging and mining, which can negatively affect freshwater and coastal fisheries habitats through land-based runoff.7 This problem that will be even more pronounced in places experiencing increasing rainfall (an thus increased runoff) from climate change. This commercialization of resources endangers the ability of people to meet their future food security needs from fisheries, which are already under threat from subsistence fishing alone.8 Thus, management plans for marine and terrestrial natural resources must consider how and where human activities impact fisheries and the livelihoods they support. Management and conservation of marine resources is almost always focused on reducing overfishing, without regard to the influence terrestrial activities (e.g., farming, logging) have on marine resources. Two possible reasons for this biased focus are: 1) asymmetry of information, where more data are available on the impacts of overfishing than on land-based activities; and 2) lack of integrated land-sea models and planning approaches to support management decisions. The proposed project will address both of these information gaps through three aims.