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Shrimp farming vulnerability and adaptation to climate change in CA MAU, Vietnam

Quach, An Van (2018) Shrimp farming vulnerability and adaptation to climate change in CA MAU, Vietnam. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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Shrimp farming is the livelihood for thousands of inhabitants in the Ca Mau of Vietnam, but these shrimp farmers are facing significant risks arising from climate change events. The research aimed to discover the adverse effects of climate change to shrimp production, and the vulnerability and adaptation of the shrimp farmers to climate change events. It was based in the main on the perspectives of shrimp farmers themselves from four shrimp farming systems (rice-shrimp rotation farming- RSRF, integrated shrimp-mangrove farming- ISMF, separated shrimp-mangrove farming- SSMF, and intensive shrimp farming- ISF) along with local experts working in the region. Findings from interviews and focus groups with these stakeholders were subsequently benchmarked against original or already published data. Three research questions guided the study: How might climate change events be affecting shrimp farming in Ca Mau Province? How is shrimp farming in different systems vulnerable to climate change events? How can Ca Mau Province shrimp farmers adapt to the climate change events?

Climate change events in this research include extreme climate events (e.g. tropical storms), sea level rise and high tide, temperature changes, rainfall changes, and irregular weather. The researcher interviewed eleven local experts, surveyed 100 farmer households, documented the relationship between climate parameters and shrimp productivity, and conducted focus group discussions with representatives of the four shrimp farming systems to access the vulnerability of shrimp production.

Key findings regarding the three research questions follow. First, adverse effects of climate change events on shrimp farming have already been occurring according to respondents in the Ca Mau region of Vietnam. The literature likewise provides evidence of this. The five climate change events ranked as most affecting shrimp production during the last decade and similarly identified for the future were seasonal pattern changes, increased intensity or irregular rain, sea level rise and high tides, and extreme climate events. Differences in climate change effects were recorded for different shrimp farming systems. Although ISMF and SSMF farmers (on the coast) were more concerned about extreme climate events, sea level rise and high tides than ISF farmers (further inland), a significantly strong positive relationship between water level and shrimp production suggests there are more benefits for shrimp farming from a higher water level; at least for such rises recorded to date. On the other hand, RSRF farmers were most concerned with seasonal pattern changes and intense rain or irregular rain; here, a significantly negative relationship between rainfall and shrimp production may suggest more severe impacts arising from these climate changes in the future. These findings contrast with existing published accounts regarding aquaculture in the Mekong Delta in that high water temperature was ranked as the greatest risk in shrimp production.

Second, several contrasting findings regarding vulnerability and adaptation of shrimp farmers to climate change were evident. While the majority of shrimp farmers hoped that their children would change occupation, many nevertheless wished for them to become shrimp farmers and most of these farmers themselves in the four systems expect to continue with shrimp farming in the future, even though shrimp production would likely be seriously impacted by climate change in the future. Intensive shrimp farming operations with higher cultivation levels and greater diversity of income sources for the families involved were found to be the least vulnerable to the perceived current and future effects of climate change. Integrated shrimp-mangrove farming was found to be less vulnerable than rice-shrimp rotation and the separated shrimp-mangrove approach. Higher income shrimp farmers were found to be more likely to already be undertaking adaptation measures to address the consequences of climate change events and those with greater social involvement were more likely to have better adaption capacity to climate change events. While it was found that shrimp farmers had taken responses to the adverse effects of climate change event in the last decade, there were no clear strategies in place for the future. Taken together, these research findings suggest that intensification, integration, and cooperation would be good adaptation options for shrimp farmers in Ca Mau Province in the face of future climate change events.

This research makes an original contribution to knowledge through capturing:

(i) the perspectives of shrimp farmers themselves on how climate change affects their operations in the four farming systems;
(ii) the climate change events most affecting shrimp production in the last decade and posing the greatest threat in the future;
(iii) the significant relationship between shrimp productivity and rainfall and water level;
(iv) the variable vulnerability in the four farming approaches; and
(v) suggestions for shrimp farming intensification, integration, and increased farmer cooperation as key adaptation options to future climate change. The research findings have important policy implications for decision makers who want to support the shrimp farming system to be less vulnerable to existing and expected climate change impacts. The results of this study also have implications for the provincial governments, residents in the Mekong Delta, and in other brackish aquaculture farming regions to gain a better understanding of climate change risks to shrimp production. One such strategy might be to both enhance shrimp farmer resilience to the adverse effects of climate change events and improve cultivation techniques for farmers in different shrimp farming systems.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Veterinary and Life Sciences
Supervisor(s): Murray, Frank and Morrison-Saunders, Angus
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