New Study Finds That Access to Education and Markets Vital for Coastal Fishing Communities Adapting to a Warming and Changing World

Research highlights new ways to support East African coastal communities during times of climate change and now a pandemic
Wildlife Conservation Society
21-May-2020 5:40 PM EDT, by Wildlife Conservation Society

Newswise — A new study investigating the links between coastal communities and coral reefs in Kenya and Madagascar has found that access to education and markets can help mitigate acute vulnerabilities for communities struggling with poverty and reliant on ecosystems degraded by overfishing.

Led by conservation scientists from the WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society) and Macquarie University, the new research, now published in the journal Environmental Science & Policy, comes as coastal communities cope with the effects of the climate change and now the COVID-19 crisis.

Strengthening “social adaptive capacity” can help communities adapt to change, hopefully minimizing the negative impacts of environmental disasters and other crises on economically stretched communities and the vulnerable ecosystems they depend on for their livelihoods

“Coastal communities feel the immediate impacts of climate change, as their livelihoods are completely dependent on local ecosystems,” said WCS and Macquarie University scientist Stephanie D’agata, lead author of the study. “Many small-scale fishing communities are totally dependent on coral reefs and will need to be able to adapt to new environmental conditions and other potential crises, like the current global pandemic, as they arise. What can help these small communities is their ‘social adaptive capacity’ – characteristics that allow communities to survive and flourish.” 

In the new study, WCS scientists surveyed over 1,400 households in small fishing communities in Madagascar and Kenya. They found that access to education and markets were particularly important factors to improve a household’s social adaptive capacity. Specifically, both the higher the level of education in the community and the better their ability to access local markets to buy and sell goods, the more readily the community was able to adapt in the face of change.

Conversely, households with less education and further away from markets had lower social adaptive capacity. Scientists also monitored the marine ecosystems, particularly coral reefs, and the small-scale fishing communities rely on. When considering the status of the nearby coral reef ecosystem, 80 percent of the households lived with unsustainable social-ecological relationships, and 10 percent were already experiencing unsustainable reliance on an already-degraded marine resource.

They found that reefs also experience increased stress during times of crisis as waters warm and people come to rely more heavily on them for food, which can quickly lead to overfishing and ecological degradation. The study showed that marine areas that were being effectively managed were more productive and better able to provide resources for the community than their unmanaged counterparts.

“Our findings show that people with access to educational resources and markets can be better able to handle periods of change and crisis,” said Dr. Emily Darling, WCS Conservation Scientist and a co-author on the study.  “Access to markets can increase a community’s access to higher fish prices and more stable livelihoods, but it must be paired with effective local management to avoid overexploiting climate-impacted ecosystems, like coral reefs and falling into a poverty trap.”

As part of work with Bloomberg Philanthropy’s Vibrant Oceans Initiative, WCS monitors the health of coral reefs around the world and advocates for the protection of marine areas alongside the communities who depend on them most.

This study on the social-adaptive capacity of fishing communities was generously funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association (WIOMSA).

The authors of the study titled “Multiscale determinants of social adaptive capacity in small-scale fishing communities” are: Stephanie D’agata; Emily S. Darling; Georgina G. Gurney; Tim R. McClanahan; Nyawira A. Muthiga; Ando Rabearisoa; and Joseph M. Maina.


WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society) MISSION: WCS saves wildlife and wild places worldwide through science, conservation action, education, and inspiring people to value nature. To achieve our mission, WCS, based at the Bronx Zoo, harnesses the power of its Global Conservation Program in nearly 60 nations and in all the world’s oceans and its five wildlife parks in New York City, visited by 4 million people annually. WCS combines its expertise in the field, zoos, and aquarium to achieve its conservation mission. Visit: Follow: @WCSNewsroom.

About Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Vibrant Oceans Initiative: As climate change increasingly threatens key ocean ecosystems, Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Vibrant Oceans Initiative is working around the world to advance evidence-based conservation practices and implement data-driven policies to protect our oceans and the 3 billion people that depend on them. Launched in 2014, Bloomberg’s Vibrant Oceans Initiative currently operates with partners Rare, Oceana, Global Fishing Watch, and the Wildlife Conservation Society in 10 countries that are top fishing nations – Australia, the Bahamas, Chile, Fiji, French Polynesia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Tanzania, Peru and the United States – to win science-based policies, protect priority coral reefs least vulnerable to climate change, and increase transparency through the adoption of national fishing data platforms.

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation supports creative people, effective institutions, and influential networks building a more just, verdant, and peaceful world. MacArthur is placing a few big bets that truly significant progress is possible on some of the world’s most pressing social challenges, including over-incarceration, global climate change, nuclear risk, and significantly increasing capital for the social sector. In addition to the MacArthur Fellows Program, the Foundation continues its historic commitments to the role of journalism in a responsible and responsive democracy; the strength and vitality of our headquarters city, Chicago; and generating new knowledge about critical issues.

The Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association (WIOMSA) is dedicated to advancing regional co-operation in all aspects of coastal and marine sciences (including socio-economic and management sciences) and management, and to support sustainable development in the Western Indian Ocean Region, while promoting interdisciplinary and multi-disciplinary approaches.



Filters close

Showing results

110 of 2454
Released: 3-Jul-2020 10:25 AM EDT
Lack of lockdown increased COVID-19 deaths in Sweden
University of Virginia Health System

Sweden’s controversial decision not to lock down during COVID-19 produced more deaths and greater healthcare demand than seen in countries with earlier, more stringent interventions, a new analysis finds.

Released: 2-Jul-2020 3:10 PM EDT
Researchers outline adapted health communications principles for the COVID-19 pandemic
CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy

The COVID-19 pandemic has introduced unique challenges for public health practitioners and health communicators that warrant an expansion of existing health communication principles to take into consideration.

Released: 2-Jul-2020 1:40 PM EDT
Collectivism drives efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19
University of Kent

Research from the University of Kent has found that people who adopt a collectivist mindset are more likely to comply with social distancing and hygiene practices to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Released: 2-Jul-2020 12:30 PM EDT
Tiny mineral particles are better vehicles for promising gene therapy
University of Wisconsin-Madison

University of Wisconsin–Madison researchers have developed a safer and more efficient way to deliver a promising new method for treating cancer and liver disorders and for vaccination — including a COVID-19 vaccine from Moderna Therapeutics that has advanced to clinical trials with humans.

Newswise: Newer variant of COVID-19–causing virus dominates global infections
Released: 2-Jul-2020 12:10 PM EDT
Newer variant of COVID-19–causing virus dominates global infections
Los Alamos National Laboratory

Research out today in the journal Cell shows that a specific change in the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus virus genome, previously associated with increased viral transmission and the spread of COVID-19, is more infectious in cell culture.

Newswise: From Wuhan to San Diego—How a mutation on the novel coronavirus has come to dominate the globe
Released: 2-Jul-2020 12:05 PM EDT
From Wuhan to San Diego—How a mutation on the novel coronavirus has come to dominate the globe
La Jolla Institute for Immunology

Two variants of the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2), called G614 and D614, were circulating in mid-March. A new study shows that the G version of the virus has come to dominate cases around the world. They report that this mutation does not make the virus more deadly, but it does help the virus copy itself, resulting in a higher viral load, or "titer," in patients.

Released: 2-Jul-2020 11:50 AM EDT
New Study Explains Potential Causes for “Happy Hypoxia” Condition in COVID-19 Patients
Loyola Medicine

A new research study provides possible explanations for COVID-19 patients who present with extremely low, otherwise life-threatening levels of oxygen, but no signs of dyspnea (difficulty breathing). This new understanding of the condition, known as silent hypoxemia or “happy hypoxia,” could prevent unnecessary intubation and ventilation in patients during the current and expected second wave of coronavirus.

Released: 2-Jul-2020 10:15 AM EDT
Stemming the Spread of Misinformation on Social Media
Association for Psychological Science

New research reported in the journal Psychological Science finds that priming people to think about accuracy could make them more discerning in what they subsequently share on social media.

29-Jun-2020 9:00 AM EDT
Coronavirus damages the endocrine system
Endocrine Society

People with endocrine disorders may see their condition worsen as a result of COVID-19, according to a new review published in the Journal of the Endocrine Society.

Showing results

110 of 2454