Building Adaptive Capacity to Weather Variability: The Case of Artisanal Fisheries in Two Southern Brazilian Lagoons

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2008

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Abstract

"Fishing community's vulnerabilities to weather variability and environmental change is a major issue to the governance of fisheries resources and has a direct effect to human security, livelihoods and rights. In this paper we explore the dynamics of social-ecological system in two coastal lagoons in southern Brazil: the estuary of the Patos Lagoon and the Peixe Lagoon. The paper aims at (1) identifying the key factors that increase and/or minimize the vulnerabilities of the fishing communities in these lagoons; (2) identifying and analysing which are the most vulnerable fishing systems and why they are so; and (3) investigating the mechanisms developed by fishing communities to cope with their vulnerabilities. Results show that fishing communities with a higher degree of self-organization were able to create ways to minimize their vulnerabilities in adverse climatic conditions. Despite that, only a few communities have developed adaptive mechanisms to cope with the influence of climate over resources abundance and availability. Little external institutional support for artisanal fishing communities, erosion of their traditional resource use systems (e.g. informal rules and agreements among fisherfolk), and decrease in fishing stocks in the recent decades are factors leading to a gradual increase in the vulnerability of fishing livelihoods in these lagoons. The uncertainties associated to the climate have shown to be quite relevant to increasing vulnerability and influencing directly the degree of resources conservation and exploitation. The lack of public policies to deal with the impact of climate changes on the livelihoods of fishing communities and the presence of still weak institutions that allow for the inclusion of fishers in resource governance represents a major threat to the social security of fisherfolk."

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climate, fisheries, community participation, adaptive systems, resource management, livelihoods

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