Ocean Equity Research

The Pacific Island Region: Fisheries, Aquaculture and Climate Change

Publication Details

J. Johnson, J. Bell, V. Allain, Q. Hanich, P Lehodey, B. Moore, S. Nicol, T. Pickering and I. Senina. 2017. The Pacific Island Region: Fisheries, Aquaculture and Climate Change, in B. Phillips and M. Perez-Ramirez (eds) Climate Change Impacts on Fisheries and Aquaculture: A Global Analysis. West Sussex, UK. Wiley Blackwell. 2018. pp 333-380.


In the Pacific Islands region, fisheries and aquaculture make vital contributions to economic development, government revenue, food security and livelihoods. Climate change is expected to have profound effects on the status and distribution of coastal and oceanic habitats, the fish and invertebrates they support and, as a result, the productivity of fisheries and aquaculture. In particular, declines in the productivity of demersal and invertebrate coastal fisheries, and more eastward distribution of tuna, are expected to present the greatest challenges for reef-dependent communities and economies. Some aquaculture commodities, such as species with calcareous shells, will also be impacted by climate change and ocean acidification. Based on preliminary tuna distribution modeling, Kiribati, Tuvalu, Tokelau, Cook Islands and French Polynesia are likely to have future opportunities to increase access fees from foreign fishing vessels and gain further benefits through greater engagement in the value chain. However, the progressive eastward shift in skipjack tuna could have some negative effects on the contributions of tuna fishing to government revenue, and tuna processing to GDP, for nations in the western Pacific. Climate change also has significant implications for food security and livelihoods. The projected decreases in coastal fisheries production will widen the gap between fish available for growing human populations and sustainable harvests, with shortages expected in some Pacific nations by 2035. There will also be a need to diversify livelihoods among fisheries and aquaculture operations in the region as some are negatively affected, and others favored, by global warming and ocean acidification. In some cases, building the resilience of coastal communities to climate change will involve reducing dependence on marine resources.

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