Trade-offs between physical risk and economic reward affect fishers’ vulnerability to changing storminess

Nigel Sainsbury*, Peter Schuhmann, Rachel Turner, Gaetano Grilli, John Pinnegar, Martin J Genner, Stephen Simpson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
26 Downloads (Pure)


Climate change-driven alterations in storm frequency and intensity threaten the wellbeing of billions of people who depend on fisheries for food security and livelihoods. Weather conditions shape vulnerability to both loss of life and reduced fishing opportunities through their influence on fishers' daily participation decisions. The trade-off between physical risk at sea and the economic rewards of continued fishing under adverse weather conditions is a critical component of fishers’ trip decisions but is poorly understood. We employed a stated choice experiment with skippers from a temperate mixed-species fishery in southwest England to empirically assess how fishers trade off the risks from greater wind speed and wave height with the benefits of expected catch and prices. Technical fishing and socio-economic data were collected for individual fishers to identify the factors influencing trade-off decisions. Fishers preferred increased wind speed and wave height up to a threshold, after which they became increasingly averse to worsening conditions. Fishing gear, vessel length, presence of crew, vessel ownership, age, recent fishing success and reliance on fishing income all influenced the skippers’ decisions to go to sea. This study provides a first insight into the socio-economic, environmental, and technical fishing factors that can influence the sensitivity of individual fishers to changing storminess. These insights can help to inform fisheries climate vulnerability assessments and the development of adaptation measures.
Original languageEnglish
Article number102228
Number of pages15
JournalGlobal Environmental Change
Early online date11 Mar 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
N.C.S. acknowledges the financial support of the UK Natural Environment Research Council (NERC; GW4+ studentships NE/L002434/1), Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (DP371Q) and Willis Research Network (NE/L002434/1).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Authors


  • Climate change
  • Changing storminess
  • Fisheries
  • Extreme weather
  • Vulnerability
  • Adaptation


Dive into the research topics of 'Trade-offs between physical risk and economic reward affect fishers’ vulnerability to changing storminess'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this