Livelihood impacts and adaptation in fishing practices as a response to recent climatic changes in the upwelling region of the East African Coastal Current
A socio-economic assessment was carried out at Amu and Shela in Lamu County and Ngomeni in Kilifi County on the coast of Kenya. The aim was to establish fisher perspectives on the livelihood impacts of changes in upwelling associated with the East African Coastal Current, and adaptations in fishing practices to determine the vulnerability, resilience and adaptation options for fisheries dependent communities in this upwelling region. Primary data and information were collected through direct observation, semi-structured interviews, key informant interviews and oral histories. Descriptive and non-parametric analysis was conducted for quantitative data and content analysis for qualitative data. The study covered 92 respondents out of which 90 were male. About 82.5 percent of the respondents had attained different levels of primary school education and below, and were therefore highly vulnerable to climate change impacts. Furthermore, 80.4 percent of the respondents were aged between 20 years and 49 years with a mean age of 40 years, thus falling into the economically active age category. In terms of livelihoods, fishing and fishing-related activities formed the primary livelihoods at the three study sites with fishing being the main occupation for 93 percent of the respondents. Fishing effort was higher during the north-east monsoon season. Fifty two percent of the respondents targeted small pelagic species. The main changes observed included increased fishing effort and a decline in the quantity of fish caught per fisher, and changes in the composition of fish species. Changes in the composition of fish species have further been compounded by a decline in rainfall over time, sea level rise, irregular wind patterns and increased temperatures. The decline in fish catch further led to a general decline in income and welfare. The climatic changes increased vulnerability of the fishing communities.
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