The adaptation of artisanal fishery to climate change

Uruguay and Chile exchange experiences to protect life below water and strengthen food security.

According to the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC, 2022), climate change is having a profound impact on our oceans and on marine life. One of the greatest impacts is on fisheries, a productive sector on which many families depend in terms of labor and food security.

This was also confirmed by FAO in the 2018 edition of the Report State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture, in which fish is considered the main source of animal protein for billions of people worldwide. The document also highlights that the livelihoods of more than 10% of the world’s population depend on capture fisheries and aquaculture. In Latin-America, in turn, marine ecosystems show a reduction in the abundance, density and coverage of coral and of fish stocks and marine fauna, changes in plankton and loss of wetland ecosystems (CAF, 2022).

One of the most important shrimp species for Uruguayan artisanal fishery (the pink shrimp, Farfantepenaeus paulensis) can be found in the South of the Latin-American continent and its annual recruitment is strongly dependent on climatic and oceanographic variability. Due to its importance and taking advantage of Chile’s accumulated experience(a), both countries carried out the Bilateral SSC project Capacity strengthening to assess the vulnerability of pink shrimp fisheries to climate change in Uruguay’s coastal areas. This was one of the 7 initiatives that were approved in the framework of the 5th Bilateral Cooperation Meeting between the two countries (within the 2019-2021 Cooperation Program). The project was implemented by the Regional University Center (CURE by its Spanish acronym) in Uruguay, and by Chile’s Interdisciplinary Center for Aquaculture Research (INCA by its Spanish acronym).

Its main aim was to promote the strengthening of institutional capacities for inclusive and sustainable development, through a pilot experience that involved artisanal pink shrimp fishery on the Uruguayan Atlantic coast. The approach was based on: 1) food security, social development, environmental protection and natural resources; 2) improved governance and the development of local communities; and 3) the mitigation of the effects of climate change on marine resources and communities that depend on them (SIDICSS, 2022).

In addition, as Dr. Rodolfo Vögler (Assistant Professor at CURE) expressed, the scientific and research approach that characterized this initiative stands out:

This project represents a commitment to CURE’s participation in two ways: first, as it contributes to the generation and democratization of knowledge; second, as it pursues the empowerment of society through this knowledge, having an impact on improving people’s quality of life and contributing to the sustainable management of marine resources and the protection of coastal ecosystems in the Uruguayan Atlantic coastline (Mundo acuícola, 2019).

In line with the above, in September 2020, experts from both institutions participated in an online workshop in order exchange on different instruments and mechanisms to improve scientific communication and its appropriation by society. Following this activity, a new training session was held in October, led by the Main Researcher of INCA’s Integrative Program, Dr. Doris Soto. This activity analyzed possible applications of the model to assess the vulnerability of pink shrimp to climate change (INCA, 2020).

With this project, Uruguay and Chile contribute to the achievement of SDG 14 (Life below water), SDG 2 (Zero Hunger) and SDG 13 (Climate Action).

August 2022


(a). In 2017, Chile developed the project Strengthening the adaptive capacity to climate change in the fisheries and aquaculture sector of Chile, which was financed by the Global Environment Facility and implemented by FAO. This initiative contributed to reduce vulnerability and increase adaptive capacity to climate change in the artisanal fisheries and small-scale aquaculture sector (FAO, 2022).

Source: CAF (2022), FAO (2022), INCA (2020), MSC (2022), Mundo acuícola (2019) and SIDICSS (2022).

Photograph: Artisanal fishermen work in the pink shrimp harvest in Castillos Lagoon, in Rocha, in the East of Uruguay. Bilateral SSC project between Uruguay and Chile: Capacity strengthening to assess the vulnerability of pink shrimp fisheries to climate change in Uruguay’s coastal areas. Image Bank on South-South and Triangular Cooperation in Ibero-America. SEGIB-PIFCSS.