PERU PARACAS

 

"We used to go half an hour to the sea. Now, there are four, five, six hours that we need to fish," says a fisherman from the port of Paracas, 160 miles south of Lima, Peru. "We have to take care of the resource, because tomorrow, what will there be?"

Like him, there are hundreds of fishermen who have been working on the coasts of Paracas for decades, a town of almost 4,000 inhabitants living mainly from tourism and fishing. From Monday to Friday, the routine is the same: dozens of boats and speedboats go fishing from 2 to 9 in the morning, in an activity that year after year becomes more difficult, resulting in an increasingly less productive fishing.Only in Peru, more than 200,000 jobs depend on the fishing industry, of which half are fishermen.

 

 

High sea temperatures are radically changing the way fish move and inhabit ocean currents. The Humboldt current —cold water with low salinity, which extends from southern Chile to Ecuador— is the largest in the world. It also houses the marine ecosystem with greater biological diversity and productivity per unit area: almost 2 of every 10 fish in the world come from it. Today, Peru is the ninth largest fish producer in the world and the first in Latin America, with a production of almost 4 million metric tons every year.

 

 

However, the Humboldt or Peru current is one of the most affected by climate variability and change. According to a study by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), an increase in ocean temperatures means a decrease in plankton, a base organism for the food chain of the marine ecosystem inhabiting Peruvian coasts.

"Global models predict a moderate decrease in catch potential by 2050 in Chile and Peru, since climate change may significantly reduce the spawning success of small pelagic fish exploited by the industrial sector," the report warns.

 

"We used to go half an hour to the sea. Now, there are four, five, six hours that we need to fish," says a fisherman from the port of Paracas, 160 miles south of Lima, Peru. "We have to take care of the resource, because tomorrow, what will there be?"

 

Also, El Niño —a climate phenomenon that heats ocean currents— will also negatively affect the population of fish in the Peruvian coasts. This has consequences on the amount of fish available as plankton becomes scarce, and alters the spawning and reproductive cycles of several fish species. "Extreme El Niño events are expected to become more frequent over the whole region in a warming climate," says the investigation.

 

 

What is being done?

Paracas is a clear example of how global warming is changing the fishing patterns. Beyond tourism, fishing represents one of the most important sources of income for the community. "The whole coast is warmed up. Anchovetas are swimming to the bottom of the ocean and our nets can't reach them, "says one of the fishermen.

Since 2014, the IDB has been working with the Peruvian government to reduce the vulnerability of coastal communities and the marine-coastal ecosystems to the impacts of climate change, both from an economic and environmental point of view. In these five years, the project —which contemplates an investment of more than US$3,000,000— has focused on providing tools to gather data and information, in order to learn more about the impact of climate change in the area. Specifically, climate change has been included in the management plans of marine-coastal zones through two pilot zones and, most importantly, in the design and implementation of environmentally friendly fishing gears, in coordination with two fishing communities.

Photo Gallery: the fishermen of Paracas, Peru

 

"At a national level, it is a first step in the efforts to better understand the nature and extent of the impacts of climate change, both on the spatial and temporal distribution of hydrobiological resources in the Peruvian coast," says Alfred Grunwaldt, senior specialist at the IDB's Climate Change Division. "This, in order to better response measures, including economic, to reduce the vulnerability of local fishermen." 

What is your country doing to tackle climate change? Check more in our Climate Change and Sustainability blog.

 

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