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Climate variability and food security in Africa: the case of small pelagic fish in West Africa

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The paper presents an analysis of the changes in fishing practices in West Africa both by national and foreign vessels and in trade patterns, as well as on the way in which these affect the economic and nutritional patterns of the Western and Central African countries, especially when climate variability is taken into account. Projections for the next decade indicate an increasing gap between estimated demand and supply under all scenarios elaborated. The more optimistic scenario shows that when environmental conditions are favourable, future fish supply cannot fulfil a growing population demand if per capita consumption remains at 2012 level. When environmental conditions are unfavourable, the supply-demand gap could rise to 1.8 million tonnes. However, even the best environmental conditions will not be able to satisfy the demand if the fish consumption per capita increases and the gap will progressively grow with time reaching 2.9 million tonnes in 2025. The pessimistic scenario presents a worrying picture of the future supply of West Africa where the gap between demand and supply may reach 3.3 million tonnes in 2025. In both scenarios, market mechanisms will adjust demand and supply by increasing the price of fish reducing therefore the accessibility for poor people and inhabitants of rural and areas far from the main fish markets. The foreseen deficiencies of fish supply will lead to nutritional loss, as some nutritional elements present in fish are not adequately represented in the foreseen substitutes (e.g. chicken). Therefore, climate variability increases the food security risks both in terms of quantity and quality.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-11
JournalJournal of Fisheries & Livestock Production
Volume2
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 20 Oct 2014

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