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 6112
Newswise: New Study Details Enzyme That Allows Coronavirus to Resist Antiviral Medications
Released: 3-Aug-2021 12:20 PM EDT
New Study Details Enzyme That Allows Coronavirus to Resist Antiviral Medications
Iowa State University

A new Iowa State University study details the structure of a critical enzyme present in SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. This enzyme removes nucleoside antiviral medications from the virus’s RNA, rendering many treatments ineffective. Scientists could use data uncovered in the new study to find ways to inhibit the enzyme, possibly leading to more effective treatments.

Released: 2-Aug-2021 6:05 PM EDT
Rethinking Remdesivir
University of California San Diego Health

UC San Diego researchers modify remdesivir, creating oral version that can be taken earlier in COVID-19 diagnoses. In cell and animal studies, revised drug proved effective and safe.

Newswise: Researchers from Hackensack Meridian University Medical Center and Colleagues Develop New Model to Help Clinicians Predict Risk of Death in Patients Hospitalized with COVID-19
Released: 2-Aug-2021 4:25 PM EDT
Researchers from Hackensack Meridian University Medical Center and Colleagues Develop New Model to Help Clinicians Predict Risk of Death in Patients Hospitalized with COVID-19
Hackensack Meridian Health

New COVID-19 40-day mortality risk model, published in The Public Library of Science ONE, has potential for use in patient treatment planning, comparisons of therapeutic strategies, and public-health preparations.

Released: 2-Aug-2021 4:05 PM EDT
Town Hall on Effectiveness of COVID-19 Vaccination in Immunosuppressed Patients Hosted by the American College of Rheumatology
American College of Rheumatology (ACR)

How effective COVID-19 vaccines have been in immunosuppressed and rheumatic disease patients remains an incompletely answered question. The American College of Rheumatology (ACR) has organized an expert panel to share what we are learning from real-world data and answer questions.

Released: 2-Aug-2021 2:00 PM EDT
CDC withdrawing its request for emergency use authorization for its COVID-19 PCR diagnostic test does not mean the test failed

Social media is now rife with claims about why the CDC is withdrawing its request for emergency use authorization for its COVID-19 PCR diagnostic test after December 2021.

Newswise: Existing Drug Is Shown to Inhibit Virus That Causes COVID-19
Released: 2-Aug-2021 1:30 PM EDT
Existing Drug Is Shown to Inhibit Virus That Causes COVID-19
Argonne National Laboratory

Scientists using the Advanced Photon Source have discovered that a drug used to fight tumors in animals might be effective against many types of coronaviruses, including SARS-CoV-2.

Released: 2-Aug-2021 11:25 AM EDT
Award-Winning Journalist and CDC Principal Investigator to Serve as ACR Convergence 2021 Keynote Speaker
American College of Rheumatology (ACR)

Convergence 2021, the annual meeting of the American College of Rheumatology (ACR), returns to a virtual meeting platform Nov. 1 - 10. This year’s meeting will include presentations from over 320 clinicians, researchers and health experts, including this year’s keynote speaker, Dr. Seema Yasmin.

Newswise: COVID-19: Small Sign of Hope as Vaccinations Rise
Released: 2-Aug-2021 10:45 AM EDT
COVID-19: Small Sign of Hope as Vaccinations Rise

As COVID-19 cases spike in Los Angeles and throughout the Golden State, driven by the spread of the delta variant among unvaccinated residents, there may be a small sign of hope: More people are finally getting their shot.

Newswise: New Evidence Shows the COVID-19 Delta Variant Rapidly Rising
Released: 31-Jul-2021 10:05 AM EDT
New Evidence Shows the COVID-19 Delta Variant Rapidly Rising
University of Miami Health System, Miller School of Medicine

The University’s coronavirus sequencing effort uncovered that there are several variants present in its patient population, but Delta is chief among them and easily transmitted. And its presence is likely triggering a local surge in the infectious disease. University of Miami researchers and physicians are seeing firsthand how rapidly the Delta variant of COVID-19 is spreading through the local population.

Showing results

110 of 6112