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Millions of people around the world depend on fisheries and aquaculture directly or indirectly for their food security, livelihoods and poverty reduction. Climate-related impacts are occurring across regions of Tanzania and primary sectors of its economy are more vulnerable However, the ocean’s ability to meet its needs is in grave danger. Fish is a crucial source of livelihood for fishermen in the coastal rural regions of Tanzania but climate change has caused a major threat to the same. As ocean temperatures rise and many fish species are being driven into deeper waters or toward the planet’s poles. The precise degree to which these phenomena are contributing to Tanzania’s current plight is difficult to quantify but ample evidence suggests such changes are already affecting fisheries across the country.


Tanzania is one of the Sub-Saharan countries projected to have more warming than the global average and the possibility of getting warmer in the future is high (IPCC 2007; Allison et al. 2009; Rajesh et al. 2014). In 2003, the Initial National Communication of Tanzania (INCT) projected the increase in temperature to be between 3°C and 5°C due the to doubling of Carbon dioxide (CO2). The earth’s average temperature is expected to increase by 6.4°C and the sea level will increase by 0.59 m at the end of 21st C (IPCC 2007). In general, the average earth’s temperature has increased by 0.74°C between 1906 and 2005 (IPCC 2007). Therefore, poor countries like Tanzania, which rely on primary sectors like agriculture and fisheries, are affected to climate change and variability due to sea level rise and temperature rise and limited adaptive capacity. (IPCC report, 2007)

Contribution of Fisheries on National Economy and Community Livelihood

Furthermore, fisheries sector employs more than 177,527 people as small-scale fishers who work directly in the sector and approximately 4,000,000 people engaged in fisheries-related activities like fish processing and marketing, trade-in fishing, boat building and maintenance (MLFD 2011). Therefore, people along the coast are largely reliant on fishing as their dominant economic activity. In 1998, the fisheries sector contributed about 2.7% to the National Gross Domestic Product (NGDP) after experiencing a growth of 4.3% in the same year. However, the contribution started to fluctuate yearly with the fisheries sector NGDP contribution averaging between 1.3% to 1.6% in the period 2007 to 2012 (Planning Commission 2011; NBS 2013). The decline of the sector might be due to climate change and environmental degradation, decrease in fish catches, over participation in fishing-related activities, change and species a distribution and increase in population. Climate change has affected the life of rural people in coastal areas, particularly those who depends on fishing and subsistence farming. Therefore, its contribution to the country’s economy has dropped significantly compared to previous years due to climate change impact.


Deteriorating Community Livelihood Due to Climate Change Impacts on Fishing Sector at Mdimni Village345

Mdimni village located only 11 meter above sea level in Mkuranga district, Tanzania established in 1971 and has 1332 residents, 400 fishermen and 90 households. So far, 80 percent of local people in Mdimni village depend on fishing but with the current situation more than 250 fishermen are forced to live their homes to find other work as a source of income.

According to Salum, “Mdimni fisherman have declined due to ocean warming, sea level rise, coral bleaching and lack of modern tools for fishing deep in ocean.” Currently fishermen living at Mdimni village use traditional fishing boats that are very small and unsafe but also use local modes of fishing. Sitting on his traditional boat, fisherman Ayubu said: According to Salum, “Mdimni fisherman have declined due to ocean warming, sea level rise, coral “I started fishing activities in 1990 and used to return home with the bucket packed with so much fish. Right now, my life has changed, I can’t afford three meals per day with my family and sometimes spend nights without getting something to eat due to low income,” he added. Before climate change effects, he used to get full bucket of fish sold for 10,000/- to 40,000/- per day, but now he catches quarter bucket of fish and obtains 5,000/- only per day. He said currently fishermen are struggling to generate income for feeding their own families, different from below before while others are now embarking in agricultural activities as casual workers so that they can get money to feed their families but with low payment. “As fishermen, we still need the government’s support so that we obtain modern fishing boats that in turn help us operate our fishing activities more easily and increase our catches” He noted.

Existing Efforts

Mdimni village chairman, Mr. Adam Ulanga, commented on alternative means to raise income, he said currently other villagers have decided to engage in beekeeping projects, mangrove planting, vegetable farming, environmental conservation and crab fishing projects while others are now engaged in salt production.


Destructive impact of natural resources undermines the livelihood and economic status of poor people who are the most vulnerable to climate change (World Bank 2013). Hence, the perspective of local people on how they think and behave on climate change together with their values and aspirations have a significant role in addressing climate change. Local fishers are expected to be in the front line in environmentally safer adaption measures. Instead, some are engaged in dynamite or blast fishing or using unauthorized tools in fishing which endangers the sustainability of the sector. To design workable policies and strategies for climate change mitigation, both central and local governments should be well informed on the issues of climate change impacts and their causes. The fishing sector plays an important role in terms of food security, wealth creation and the livelihood to majority of coastal communities, hence contributing to poverty reduction


It is a non-for-profit, member-based - of over 80 diverse organizations across Tanzania committed to work on climate change issues in Tanzania and beyond.

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