84% of Mexico’s Most Important Fisheries to be Impacted by Climate Change, Unless Action is Taken

New report offers a scalable research model for global use to prevent climate change impacts on fisheries

October 2, 2019
MEDIA CONTACT: Tad Segal, tsegal@edf.org, (202) 572-3549

(WASHINGTON, D.C. – Oct. 2, 2019) The most important Mexican fisheries in terms of volume, value and their importance in generating livelihoods are at risk of serious impacts from climate change unless action is taken, according to new research co-authored by Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), researchers from the University of California, Santa Barbara and Mexican experts and published today in the journal PLOS ONE.  

The paper models how climate change will impact Mexican fisheries using several scenarios of temperature increase. According to the report, climate change will negatively impact 84% of the species analyzed — which account for 70% of Mexico’s landings — if action is not taken. Some of the greatest catch declines as a result of warming waters in Mexico came from key species such as red snapper, mahi-mahi, pacific sardine, jumbo squid, abalone and snook. A significant drop in these species will lead to adverse implications to coastal communities in Mexico. 

However, the paper also points out that the best strategy to offset climate change impacts on national fisheries in Mexico is to invest in sustainable management now.

“National fisheries, in Mexico and beyond, need to prepare for a climate change-impacted world. Their livelihoods depend on it,” said Laura Rodriguez, EDF associate vice president for Latin America and the Caribbean for the Oceans program, and co-author of the paper. “In the case of Mexico, over 350,000 fishers and their families depend on fishing for their livelihood. The path forward must promote in-country measures to enable the preservation and reproduction of fish by adopting sustainable fisheries management through policy reform.”

The research also points out that the process that was used to assess Mexican fishery resilience against climate change can provide a groundbreaking framework that other countries can repeat in their own local fisheries. With the help of expert engagement, the process used can be implemented relatively easily on a regional or nationwide scale.

“The good news here is any region in the world can use the model we created to drive local change. Assessing your fisheries against climate change is a great first step any country can take to better understand what’s at stake,” said Dr. Steven Gaines, dean of the Bren School, co-director of the Sustainable Fisheries Group in University of California, Santa Barbara and co-author of the report. “Our aim is to help countries prepare for climate change and identify durable climate adaptation solutions.”

This report on Mexico’s fisheries is a continuation of the recent global climate change report co-authored by EDF and academic partners. While last year’s study captured climate change through a global lens, this latest assessment intentionally captures a more local, close-up perspective. The continued production of similar analyses, from any and all vantage points, are crucial for the purpose of obtaining a better understanding of climate impact.

“Having more fish in the ocean, more food on the plate and more prosperous communities depends on our ability to generate more information around climate change. We are hopeful that this report will help pave the way for similar efforts across Mexico and the rest of the world. It’s truly essential if we want to properly plan for what’s to come,” said Laura Rodriguez.

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