Climate-smart tuna fishing in the western PacificWestern Pacific

Background 1 2

The industrial fisheries for yellow-fin tuna in the equatorial waters of the western Pacific Ocean make important contributions to global fish supplies. The 1.3 million tonnes of tuna caught each year supply 25% of the world’s canned tuna. In addition, these fisheries are vital to the economies of Pacific Island Countries (PICs); license fees from foreign fishing fleets contribute 10-40% of government revenue for several small island nations. However, the effects of the El Niño Southern Oscillation on the distribution and abundance of these species creates uncertainty with regard to where fishing benefits will be greatest. During La Niña events, tuna catches are highest in the western part of the region. During El Niño episodes, the best catches are made further east. To keep catches within sustainable bounds and optimize distribution of economic benefits, eight PICs control and distribute fishing catches through the ‘vessel-day scheme’ (VDS). These eight countries are known as the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA). The VDS sets a total allowable quota for fishing days within PNA waters. This is allocated among the PNA members, based on historical patterns of fishing. Members are able to trade VDS between themselves to accommodate situations where fish are unusually concentrated either in the west or east due to ENSO events. Such trading aims to ensure that all PNA members continue to receive some level of benefits from the fisheries, regardless of where tuna are concentrated.

Relationship to CSA

Limits on vessel-days serve as a consistent, reliable tool for managing the fishery’s long-term productivity, while permit trading improves cost-effectiveness of productivity. The expected outcome is more equitable returns to fishing livelihoods. The allocation and trading of fishing days allows flexible adaptation to year-to-year climate variation and slow-onset change. While reduced emissions are not the principal focus, capping the activity of vessels indirectly limits their fuel based carbon output.

Impacts and lessons learned

Like other cap-and-trade programmes, the VDS scheme leverages market forces to make environmental regulations more efficient. In addition, the chance to share the benefits of the fishery while protecting it for future generations gives countries a strong incentive to continue participating (CCAFS 2013). 3


CCAFS Big Facts - Cap and trade for tuna across 8 Pacific Island states:


  • 1

    FAO. 2013a. Climate-Smart Agriculture: Sourcebook. Rome, Italy: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Between now and 2050, the world’s population will increase by one-third. Most of these additional 2 billion people will live in developing countries. At the same time, more people will be living in cities. If current income and consumption growth trends continue, FAO estimates that agricultural production will have to increase by 60 percent by 2050 to satisfy the expected demands for food and feed. Agriculture must therefore transform itself if it is to feed a growing global population and provide the basis for economic growth and poverty reduction. Climate change will make this task more difficult under a business-as-usual scenario, due to adverse impacts on agriculture, requiring spiralling adaptation and related costs.
  • 2

    Bell JD, Johnson JE, Hobday AJ, (Eds.). 2011. Vulnerability of tropical Pacific fisheries and aquaculture to climate change. Noumea, New Caledonia: Secretariat of the Pacific Community. This book provides a comprehensive climate change vulnerability assessment of tropical Pacific aquaculture and fisheries. There is little doubt that climate impact will increase in the coming years, having profound effects on fishery and aquaculture production. Rapid population growth in the Pacific Island countries demands new sustainable approaches to successfully meet food security demands, capable of responding to the many climate drivers which affect the production of fish and shellfish. Vulnerabilities and adaptation responses need to be identified, and the book brings together contributions from scientists and fisheries managers from 36 institutions around the globe. Not only do the vulnerabilities need to be addressed, but adaptations, policies and investment need to be able to take advantage of potential opportunities as well.
  • 3

    CCAFS. 2013. Big Facts on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security. Copenhagen, Denmark: CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS). Big Facts is a resource of the most up-to-date and robust facts relevant to the nexus of climate change, agriculture and food security. It is intended to provide a credible and reliable platform for fact checking amid the range of claims that appear in reports, advocacy materials and other sources. Full sources are supplied for all facts and figures and all content has gone through a process of peer review.

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CCAFS Climate-Smart Agriculture 101

The basics

Climate-smart agriculture (CSA) is an integrative approach to address these interlinked challenges of food security and climate change, that explicitly aims for three objectives:

A. Sustainably increasing agricultural productivity, to support equitable increases in farm incomes, food security and development;

B. Adapting and building resilience of agricultural and food security systems to climate change at multiple levels; and

C. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture (including crops, livestock and fisheries).

Entry points

Agriculture affects and is affected by climate change in a wide range of ways and there are numerous entry points for initiating CSA programmes or enhancing existing activities. Productivity, mitigation and adaptation actions can take place at different technological, organizational, institutional and political levels. To help you navigate these myriad entry points we have grouped them under three Thematic Areas: (i) CSA practices, (ii) CSA systems approaches, and (iii) Enabling environments for CSA. Each entry point is then described and analysed in terms of productivity, adoption and mitigation potential and is illustrated with cases studies, references and internet links for further information.

Develop a CSA plan

Planning for, implementing and monitoring CSA projects and programmes evolves around issues of understanding the context including identification of major problems/barriers and opportunities related to the focus of the programme; developing and prioritizing solutions and designing plans; implementation; and monitoring and evaluation. Most major development agencies have their own framework for project and programme formulation and management but CCAFS has developed a specific approach for planning, implementing and assessing CSA projects and programme called CSA plan. CSA plan was developed to provide a guide for operationalizing CSA planning, implementation and monitoring at scale. CSA plan consist of four major components: (1) Situation analysis; (2) Targeting and prioritizing; (3) Program support; and (4) Monitoring. evaluation and learning.


To meet the objectives of CSA, such as agricultural development, food security and climate change adaptation and mitigation, a number of potential funding sources are available. For instance, climate finance sources may be used to leverage agriculture finance and mainstream climate change into agricultural investments. This section offers an overview of potential sources of funding for activities in climate-smart agriculture (CSA) at national, regional and international levels and for a number of different potential ‘clients’ including governments, civil society, development organizations and others. Additionally, it includes options to search among a range of funding opportunities according to CSA focus area, sector and financing instrument.

Resource library

CSA Guide provides a short and concise introduction and overview of the multifaceted aspects of climate-smart agriculture. At the same time it offers links to references and key resources that allows for further investigations and understanding of specific topics of interest. In the resource library we have gathered all the references, key resources, terms and questions in one place for a quick overview and easy access that can be used as a part of or independently of the other sections of the website. The resource library is divided into six sections; (1) References – list all publications, links and blogs referred to on the website; (2) Tools – list all the CSA tools presented on the website; (3) Key terms – explains the most important and frequently used terms related to CSA; (4) Frequently asked questions (FAQ) – provides a rapid overview of the most common questions asked on climate-smart agriculture; (5) About – where you can find out more about the purpose and structure of, as well as on the organizations and authors behind the website; (6) Contact.

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