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Adapting to change in inland fisheries: analysis from Lake Tanganyika, East Africa

Lowe, Benjamin S., Jacobson, Susan K., Anold, Happiness, Mbonde, Athanasio S., O’Reilly, Catherine M.
Regional environmental change 2019 v.19 no.6 pp. 1765-1776
biodiversity, capital, climate change, freshwater fisheries, homeowners, income, littoral zone, livelihood, social environment, surveys, Lake Tanganyika, Tanzania
Fisheries around the world are declining due to growing anthropogenic pressures including climate change and overexploitation. Understanding how small-scale fishers respond to this unprecedented challenge is critical for developing more effective management strategies in vulnerable socio-ecological systems. While considerable research is focused on adaptation to change in marine contexts, greater attention is urgently needed on regionally important but often neglected inland fisheries. This study analyzes the adaptation intentions of littoral fishers on Lake Tanganyika, a biodiversity hotspot and one of the largest inland fisheries in Africa. Data were collected through in-person surveys of 154 littoral fishers across 11 major landing sites in Tanzania. Based on the Theory of Planned Behavior, we identified and tested 15 individual and site-level factors as potential indicators of adaptation intentions to a hypothetical 50% decline in catch. Our results show that fishers with other (non-fishing) primary livelihoods are more likely to adapt in ways that decrease fishing pressure, increase income, and are supported by family and friends. Homeowners were also more likely to adapt in ways that lessen fishing pressure. Our findings highlight the importance of fostering regional adaptation strategies that increase primary livelihood alternatives and capital outside the fishery, while discouraging investment in adaptations focused on increasing catch amount or fishing income.