83. Perception of small-scale fishers on ocean acidification impacts: A case study of small-scale fisheries communities at Ko Chang, Thailand

Thamasak Yeemin*, Makamas Sutthacheep, Wichin Suebpala, Sittiporn Pengsakun

Marine Biodiversity Research Group, Faculty of Science, Ramkhamhaeng University, Bangkok, Thailand

Background
Increased atmospheric carbon dioxide, mainly generated from human activities, causes a reduction in pH of seawater known as ‘ocean acidification’ which is currently a growing concern among scientists. The 5th assessment report of the IPCC reported with medium to high confidence that ocean acidification might be risky to marine life and ecosystems especially the primary production that relates to fisheries resources. However, public perceptions on the impacts of ocean acidification on small-scale fisheries sector are still questionable.

Methods
In this study, public perception of ocean acidification and its impacts on their livelihoods were investigated using focus group discussion in four fishing communities at Ko Chang, Thailand.

Findings
The fishing households were mostly small-scale. The fishing is usually operated within 3 nautical miles from the shores using simple fishing gears and small fishing boats, while some of these areas are designed as marine national parks where any fishing activity is legally prohibited. The results showed that most fishers had heard the concerns of global climate change through media; they also agreed that the global climate change was resulted from human activities. However, only a few fishers knew the term ‘ocean acidification’ but they did not clearly know about the impacts of ocean acidification on fisheries resources and their livelihoods. Interestingly, all of them mentioned that ocean acidification or even the global climate change could generate very little impact on fisheries resources compared with those impacts caused by pollution and destructive fishing practices that are still happening in this area.

Conclusions
This study reflects the general perception of small-scale fishers on ocean acidification impacts. Relevant agencies should pay more attention on this finding and the proper adaptive strategies should be developed for enhancing their resilience to cope with those impacts and to sustain their livelihoods.