Role model against climate change: GNF project on sustainable fisheries provides basis for environmental protection measures in Colombia

Archives of Press Releases of Global Nature Fund

Role model against climate change: GNF project on sustainable fisheries provides basis for environmental protection measures in Colombia

The Colombian fisheries authority AUNAP adopts recommendations of the Global Nature Fund and the Fundación Humedales for a new regulation of the closed seasons for the tiger catfish, which should better protect fish stocks from the consequences of climate change. The landmark decision can serve as a model for inland waters worldwide.

Foto © Fundación Humedales
Radolfzell, 23 June 2022: All over the world, the consequences of climate change are being felt, including on the Río Magdalena, Colombia's most important river. It provides livelihoods and food for thousands of people and is the habitat of the tiger catfish - an icon of the region that accounts for 60 percent of the total catch. But rising temperatures and encroachment on the natural habitat have decimated fish stocks in the Río Magdalena: Over the past forty years, catfish catches have declined by more than half to 30,000 tons annually. Poverty, threats to food security in the region and steadily increasing pressure on the remaining stocks are the result.

GNF develops solutions for the blue lifeline of Colombia

To counteract this, the Global Nature Fund (GNF) started a project in November 2020 together with the Colombian environmental protection organization Fundación Humedales and funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development and the Ursula Merz Foundation to protect the fish stocks of the Middle Río Magdalena. Advanced observation and monitoring methods to monitor the fish stocks and their reproductive cycles provided a clear result: instead of always spawning at the same time of year as before, the tiger catfish spawning seasons now change annually. The Colombian fisheries authority AUNAP now reacted to the development and adopted a new closed season regulation in June 2022, in which it explicitly refers to the GNF project.

Inland fisheries from Colombia to Lake Constance: Adaptation to climate change

Thies Geertz, responsible project manager at the GNF, welcomes the step: "With its regulation on closed seasons, the Colombian state fulfills its responsibility to make closed seasons more flexible and thus protects the tiger catfish more effectively. This is an important measure for adapting to climate change, because fluctuating temperatures and changes in water flow in the Magdalena mean that the start of the tiger catfish spawning season can no longer be rigidly predicted, as was still the case in the old regulations, which have now been updated on the basis of our work." Fish stocks in German inland waters could also benefit from such a dynamic regulation, Geertz emphasizes: "Variable closed seasons are also suitable for transfer to German inland waters such as Lake Constance in view of the consequences of global warming. Here, too, the consequences of climate change are already being clearly felt, and variable closed seasons would be a suitable instrument for protecting fish stocks."

Learn more about our project at the Río Magdalena
Global Nature Fund (GNF) - Office Radolfzell
Thies Geertz, Project Manager
Phone: +49 7732 9995 871