Projections of climate change effects on Lake Tanganyika (CLEAT)

Project summary

Lake Tanganyika is an important ecosystem in eastern Africa, which historically has supported one of the world’s most productive freshwater fisheries. However, stocks of important commercial fish have decreased significantly. Scientific evidence suggests that fisheries are partly threatened by climate driven reductions in lake productivity. This project will provide a better understanding of how sensitive Lake Tanganyika is climate change and evaluate future sustainable fisheries. Based on active engagement with local scientists, students, fishermen and lake managers, the project will build capacity on contemporary lake monitoring to provide a fundamental understanding of how environmental conditions relate to fish yields and improve decision-making capacity for fishermen. The gathered data will be used as a platform to inform Tanzanians about their unique lake via local workshops targeted to local poor fishermen, and to lake managers and larger scale fishermen via seminars and through a new lake website. The data will also be used to develop the first full scale biogeochemical model of Lake Tanganyika, and be used to verify a decadal time series of satellite based observations of water temperature, algal biomass and primary production. Coupling this information with knowledge on fish species traits will allow us to investigate how abundance of important pelagic and littoral fish responds to temperature-mediated changes and compare this with effects of intensified fisheries.


Midterm report:

During the last two years CLEAT partners have gained a much deeper understanding of
interactions between human and natural conditions affecting the functioning and fisheries of
Lake Tanganyika. Emphasis has been on strengthened capacity in data analysis and
presentation of findings such as publication of research papers. Quality assurance of essential
data on water quality, fish landings, and fish growth have been made and used to setup
advanced models of lake functioning, including a fish productivity model. These models are
now being applied by PhD student s to make predictions about how the lake ecosystem will
change under future climate scenarios. The importance of fishing equipment and practices
were investigated and interviews with local fishermen and stakeholders has provided a deeper
understanding of the complex interactions affecting the declining fisheries of the lake. Project
findings have been disseminated efficiently both at the local, regional, national and
international scale.

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