Importance of fisheries for food security across three climate change vulnerable deltas
Deltas are home to a large and growing proportion of the world’s population, that often livinge in conditions of extreme poverty. Deltaic ecosystems are ecologically significant as they support high biodiversity and a variety of fisheries, however these coastal environments are extremely vulnerable to climate change. This is due to the coincidence of physical and socio-economic characteristics that often vary geographically. The Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna (Bangladesh/India), the Mahanadi (India), and the Volta (Ghana) are among the most important and populous delta regions in the world and they are all considered at risk of food insecurity and climate change.
Worldwide, fFisheries provide 17% of animal protein consumed and employ 56.6 million people worldwide, a proportion particularly high in the poorest countries. Fish is a key component of people’s diet in many developing countries because it is often the only affordable and easily available source of animal protein. In Bangladesh and Ghana around 50-60% of animal protein is supplied by fish while in India this is about 12%. In these countries the fishery and aquaculture sectors are the main source of income for millions of families. Fish also makes also an important portion of total exports in India (23.7%), Ghana (19.6%) and Bangladesh (4.8%). The main exported species differs across countries with Ghana and India dominated by marine fish species, whereas Bangladesh exports shrimps and prawns.
Due to their current fisheries policies and environmental vulnerability these countries are considered at risk of food insecurity caused by climate change and overfishing. The analysis provided in this paper highlights the importance of applying plans for fisheries management at regional level. Minimizing the impacts of climate change while increasing marine ecosystems resilience must be a priority for scientists and governments before these have dramatic impacts on millions of people’s lives.