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Fisheries must be included in global climate policy dialogue, say Nicholas Dulvy and Edward Allison.

They claim that around 520 million people are fisheries-dependent. One-third of the world relies on aquatic products for at least one-fifth of their protein intake, and fisheries and aquaculture employ over 36 million people — 98 per cent of whom are in the developing world.

But the effects of climate change on fisheries — and their implications for food security and human health — are largely overlooked, say the authors.

Climate change could impact fish migration routes, and spawning and feeding grounds. It will also make extreme events like floods and hurricanes more likely, increasing the vulnerability of fishing communities. Africa and South-East Asia — particularly Sierra Leone, Niger and the Democratic Republic of Congo — are the most vulnerable, say the authors, because they rely heavily on fisheries but have low adaptation capacities.

The authors argue for policy responses and research in four key areas: the ability of aquatic production systems to reduce carbon emissions; fisheries' socio-ecological resilience and ability to respond to climate change; adaptation approaches that integrate natural resource sectors such as water, forestry, farming and fisheries; and mainstreaming fisheries in wider development processes.

Link to full article in Nature Reports Climate Change