Sheck Abdul Sherif, a Ph.D. Candidate within the School of Natural and Built Environment, Queen’s University Belfast, has won a Research Grant to conduct research that would assess the impact of ocean acidification and climate change on the fishery sector, particularly coastal fishing communities in Liberia.
The project is a brainchild of the Global Ocean Acidification Observing Network (GOA-ON) under the global body’s Pier2Peer mentorship program that matches senior researchers with early-career scientists to facilitate an exchange of expertise platform for international collaboration. It is supported by The Ocean Foundation’s International Ocean Acidification Initiative.
According to the project specifics, the research will pay keen attention to the effect of ocean acidification and climate change in Liberia, giving the vulnerability of the country’s nine coastal counties to the adverse effects of these menaces.
“Fisheries make essential contributions to the Liberian national economy and, both directly and indirectly, to the livelihoods of people living in coastal communities across the nine coastal counties. Small scale fisheries including artisanal and semi-industrial provide employment, income, and food to over 33,000 people, including 11,000 fishers,” Sherif said.
This research grant comes in handy in ensuring that steps are taken to secure sustainable fisheries and management capacity, including providing that these fishers understand the impact of climate change and ocean acidification on the fisheries and, thus, have a voice in developing future fisheries policies.
Sherif will be working with long time Researcher, Professor, and Scientific Director of the Institute of Environmental Science and Technology (ICTA) Unit of Excellence ‘María de Maeztu,’ University Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB), Patrizia Ziveri as Mentor to increase the depths of professional capacity in the implementation of the project in Liberia.
It is well-known that the impacts of climate change on the small-scale fisheries sector come with high economic losses and can lead to poverty and civil unrest. Ocean acidification impact on fisheries, although less studied, will have consequences, particularly considering knockdown effects on the food web,” the project detail.
While working with important Stakeholders like the National Fisheries and Aquaculture Authority (NaFAA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), this pilot project would endeavor to explore the potential of local knowledge systems to improve our understanding of ocean acidification and climate change impacts on the role of women in the small-scale fisheries industry in Liberia especially in Robertsport, Grand Cape Mount County.
The project, during its lifespan, would be working to assess the state of knowledge related to the impact of climate change and ocean acidification on fisheries, thus affecting the value chain and if that correlates to changes in fishing behavior. And if reducing the potential impact of climate change and ocean acidification (i.e., cutting down the mangroves, backfilling mangrove swamps, etc.) can have on the role of women in the small-scale fisheries industry.