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Coordinated Research Project: Ocean Acidification and the Economic Impact on Fisheries and Coastal Society


Ocean acidification is expected to have significant effects on coastal ocean productivity and ecosystem function in the near future with resultant socio-economic impacts to fishery-dependent countries. The IAEA Coordinated Research Project (CRP) “Ocean acidification and the socio-economic impact on fisheries and coastal society” is promoting the transfer of expertise to developing countries concerning this emerging global environmental problem. Regional assessment of economic vulnerabilities and creation of socio-economic models based on changing fishery components due to ocean acidification are needed. Taking into account future ocean acidification, scenarios of impacts on factors important to food security, livelihoods, ecosystem services, and socio-economic systems of developing countries are being produced to assist in effectively managing ocean resources and sustain human coastal activities. This CRP aims to:

  • Identify and describe pathways of impact of ocean acidification
  • Improve understanding of the vulnerability of regions and markets to ocean acidification
  • Quantify economic impacts of biological effects of ocean acidification to assist natural resource management and policy decisions on regional and local scales.

Projects spanning several disciplines of natural and social science are performing social and economic analyses and regional assessments of vulnerability based on potential losses of ecosystem services, fisheries, and aquaculture production caused by changes in ocean chemistry. Geographic areas of interest for the projects include countries with high productivity coastal zones and habitats of special interest, for example areas of upwelling, semi-enclosed seas, and coral reefs.

Three themes will be emphasized in the social and economic analyses: (1) coupled bio-physical socio-economic impact models at local and regional scale resolution, (2) coastal community vulnerability assessments, and (3) consolidation, analysis, and dissemination of current knowledge of ocean acidification ecological effects and projected economic impacts. Experiments using nuclear techniques will be incorporated in the CRP to provide data on biological effects of elevated levels of CO2 and seawater acidification relevant to harvest species (e.g. mussels) and habitat sustainability (e.g. coral reefs). Pathways of impact through finfish and shellfish capture and culture are being investigated.

Expected outcomes

Success in this CRP will result in a network of institutions in developing countries with knowledge of ocean acidification impacts to enable policy and management actions to adapt to changes in fishery conditions, e.g. shifts in species fished and improvements in aquaculture practices. Regionally, project institutions, resource managers and policy-makers will benefit directly from the CRP through enhanced capacity. Participating institutions will be important sources of regional dissemination of knowledge and best practices concerning ocean acidification. Locally, fisherman and those whose livelihoods depend upon coastal ecosystem services and productivity will benefit through development of the sustainable use of marine resources.

Member State Participation

The following institutions are currently involved in the IAEA Ocean Acidification CRP on socio-economic impacts:

  • BRAZIL, Pontificia Universidade Catolica
  • CANADA, University of British Columbia
  • CHILE, Universidad Austral de Chile
  • GHANA, University of Ghana
  • KENYA, CORDIO East Africa
  • KUWAIT, Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research
  • PHILIPPINES University of the Philippines
  • USA NOAA, Alaska Fisheries Science Center
Map of institutions and regions currently involved in the CRP