Fishers in Mozambique feel the impact of climate change

boys in a boat

“It doesn’t matter to me whether you believe in climate change or not, because it is happening to us, here and now.”

Coastal Fisherman

“It doesn’t matter to me whether you believe in climate change or not, because it is happening to us, here and now.”

These were the striking and ghostly words shared by a local fisher as we stood on a small and sparse sandbar off the coast of northern Mozambique. With the horizon of the Indian Ocean to the east, and the coastline of Angoche bay to the west, the sandbar is an important landing site for local boats, where fishers draw in their purse seine nets hoping to catch grouper, snapper, kingfish, grunts, and more.

But the climate is harsher. Once lush with mangroves, the sandbar is now exposed. Dry stumps are all that remain of the trees that were destroyed by cyclones whipping up and down this channel between Mozambique and Madagascar. The fishers here are experiencing the effects of climate change first-hand.

“The seas are changing, the weather is changing,” said Fome Ali, a coastal fishermen. “We are not getting the same fish catch as in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s.”

Other fishers around us agreed, noting that the ocean currents are different and sand is stirred up from storms, making it too murky to see the fish in order to catch them.

fisherman in mozambique © Laura Margison / WWF-US
mangroves in mozambique © Laura Margison / WWF-US

Oceans interact with our atmosphere, regulating the global climate and impacting everything from temperature to weather. But we’re seeing changes in this interaction. The exchange is intensifying and affecting these fishers in Mozambique. All of these alterations aggravate the negative impacts of overfishing, illegal fishing, and other major threats such as pollution and habitat degradation.

But for all of the challenges, there is a positive spirit and can-do within this group of fishers. This is a social community built on fishing and farming, and reliant on the good health of the biologically complex coastal marine ecosystem that is their home. So they are seeking solutions. Working in partnership with local and national government, the CARE-WWF Alliance, local businesses, and fishing communities, WWF is restoring and protecting vital mangroves along the coastal estuaries of the bay.

Through a combination of marine sanctuaries and conservation agriculture initiatives, we’re building the foundation that provides a basis for sustainable livelihoods, alleviating pressure from the climate-stressed natural resources. And following a series of destructive cyclones, disaster-relief shelters were constructed to address food insecurity and disaster risk reduction.

Now it is time for governments from around the world to step up and take action for climate and protect our oceans.

Use your voice. Demand climate action now!