Risk Management

, Volume 17, Issue 1, pp 1–22 | Cite as

Perceptions of climate-related risks and awareness of climate change of fish cage farmers in northern Thailand

  • Phimphakan Lebel
  • Niwooti Whangchai
  • Chanagun Chitmanat
  • Jongkon Promya
  • Louis Lebel
Original Article


How climate risks are understood and perceived by farmers is important because it can influence their management practices. Farmers in Northern Thailand who rear fish in floating cages in rivers can cope with modest fluctuations in water levels, but appear vulnerable to more extreme changes in flow. This study used in-depth interviews and a quantitative survey across many sites to explore how fish farmers perceive climate-related risks and understand climate change. Important climate-related risks – such as floods and droughts – vary by season, year and location, and are modified by water infrastructure. Recent experience of negative impacts increases levels of concern about risks. Risks from droughts were perceived to have significantly worsened. The overall level of awareness of climate change among fish farmers is high, suggesting that future work should focus on building on from how farmers manage risks under the current climate, to then take into account climate change. This study shows that a good understanding of risk perception is likely to be important in improving climate risk management, and thus adaptation to climate change.


risk perception climate change awareness aquaculture 



This work was carried out with the aid of a grant from the International Development Research Centre, Ottawa, Canada, as a contribution to the AQUADAPT project. Thanks to the many field assistants, students, officials and farmers who helped with the surveys.


  1. Ahmed, N., Bunting, S.W., Rahman, S. and Garforth, C.J. (2013) Community-based climate change adaptation strategies for integrated prawn-fish-rice farming in Bangladesh to promote social-ecological resilience. Reviews in Aquaculture 5: 1–16.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Ahsan, D. and Roth, E. (2010) Farmers’ perceived risks and risk management strategies in an emerging mussel aquaculture industry in Denmark. Marine Resource Economics 25 (3): 309–323.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Ahsan, D.A. (2011) Farmers’ motivations, risk perceptions and risk management strategies in a developing economy: Bangladesh experience. Journal of Risk Research 14 (3): 325–349.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Alpizar, F., Carlsson, F. and Naranjo, M.A. (2011) The effect of ambiguous risk, and coordination on farmers’ adaptation to climate change – A framed field experiment. Ecological Economics 70 (12): 2317–2326.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Baird, J., Plummer, R., Haug, C. and Huitema, D. (2014) Learning effects of interactive decision-making processes for climate change adaptation. Global Environmental Change 27 (0): 51–63.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Barnes, A. and Toma, L. (2012) A typology of dairy farmer perceptions towards climate change. Climatic Change 112 (2): 507–522.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Belton, B. and Little, D. (2008) The development of aquaculture in Central Thailand: Domestic demand versus export-led production. Journal of Agrarian Change 8 (1): 123–143.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Birkmann, J., Chang Seng, D. and Setiadi, N. (2013) Enhancing early warning in the light of migration and environmental shocks. Environmental Science & Policy 27 (1): S76–S88.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bosma, R.H., Nhan, D.K., Udo, H.M.J. and Kaymak, U. (2012) Factors affecting farmers’ adoption of integrated rice-fish farming systems in the Mekong delta, Vietnam. Reviews in Aquaculture 4 (3): 178–190.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Callaway, R. et al (2012) Review of climate change impacts on marine aquaculture in the UK and Ireland. Aquatic Conservation-Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems 22 (3): 389–421.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Chaibu, P., Ungsethaphand, T. and Maneesri, S. (2004) The costs and returns of Tilapia and Tubtim (Red Tilapia) cage culture in Chiang Mai province, Thailand [in Thai]. Journal of Fisheries 57 (3): 244–250.Google Scholar
  12. De Silva, S. and Soto, D. (2009) Climate change and aquaculture: Potential impacts, adaptation and mitigation. In: K. Cochrane, C. De Young, G. Soto, and T. Bahri (eds.) Climate Change Implications for Fisheries and Aquaculture: Overview of Current Scientific Knowledge. FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Technical Paper 530. Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, pp. 151–212.Google Scholar
  13. Duckett, D. and Busby, J. (2013) Risk amplification as social attribution. Risk Management 15 (2): 132–153.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Frost, M., Baxter, J.M., Buckley, P.J., Cox, M., Dye, S.R. and Withers Harvey, N. (2012) Impacts of climate change on fish, fisheries and aquaculture. Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems 22 (3): 331–336.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Ghadim, A.K.A., Pannell, D.J. and Burton, M.P. (2005) Risk, uncertainty, and learning in adoption of a crop innovation. Agricultural Economics 33 (1): 1–9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Grothmann, T. and Patt, A. (2005) Adaptive capacity and human cognition: The process of individual adaptation to climate change. Global Environmental Change 15 (3): 199–213.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Hosmer, D. and Lemeshow, S. (2000) Applied Logistic Regression. 2nd edn. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Islam, M.M., Barnes, A. and Toma, L. (2013) An investigation into climate change scepticism among farmers. Journal of Environmental Psychology 34 (0): 137–150.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Kasperson, J.X., Kasperson, R.E., Pidgeon, N. and Slovic, P. (2003) The social amplification of risk: Assessing fifteen years of research and theory. In: N. Pidgeon, R.E. Kasperson and P. Slovic (eds.) The Social Amplification of Risk. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 13–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Kost, A., Läderach, P., Fisher, M., Cook, S. and Gómez, L. (2012) Improving index-based drought insurance in varying topography: Evaluating basis risk based on perceptions of Nicaraguan hillside farmers. PLoS ONE 7 (12): e51412. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0051412.Google Scholar
  21. Kunreuther, H., Heal, G., Allen, M., Edenhofer, O., Field, C. and Yohe, G. (2013) Risk management and climate change. Nature Climate Change 3: 447–450.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Kuruppu, N. and Liverman, D. (2011) Mental preparation for climate adaptation: The role of cognition and culture in enhancing adaptive capacity of water management in Kiribati. Global Environmental Change 21 (2): 657–669.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Le, T.C. and Cheong, F. (2010) Perceptions of risk and risk management in Vietnamese catfish farming: An empirical study. Aquaculture Economics & Management 14 (4): 282–314.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Le, T.C., Cheong, F. and Cheong, C. (2012) Developing a risk management DSS for supporting sustainable Vietnamese catfish farming. 45th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences: IEEE Computer Society.Google Scholar
  25. Lebel, P., Chaibu, P. and Lebel, L. (2009) Women farm fish: Gender and commercial fish cage culture on the Upper Ping River, northern Thailand. Gender, Technology and Development 13 (2): 199–224.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Lebel, L., Grothmann, T. and Siebenhuner, B. (2010) The role of social learning in adaptiveness: Insights from water management. International Environmental Agreements 10: 333–353.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Lebel, P. et al (2013) River-based cage aquaculture of Tilapia in northern Thailand: Sustainability of rearing and business practices. Natural Resources 4 (5): 410–421.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Lebel, P., Whangchai, N., Chitmanat, C., Promya, J. and Lebel, L. (2015a) Climate risk management in river-based Tilapia cage culture in northern Thailand. International Journal of Climate Change Strategies and Management.Google Scholar
  29. Lebel, P., Whangchai, N., Chitmanat, C., Promya, J. and Lebel, L. (2015b) Risk of impacts from extreme weather and climate in river-based Tilapia cage culture in northern Thailand. International Journal of Global Warming 9 (1).Google Scholar
  30. Leiserowitz, A. (2006) Climate change risk perception and policy preferences: The role of affect, imagery, and values. Climatic Change 77: 45–77.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Leppälä, J., Murtonen, M. and Kauranen, I. (2012) Farm risk map: A contextual tool for risk identification and sustainable management on farms. Risk Management 14: 42–59.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Manandhar, S., Vogt, D.S., Perret, S.R. and Kazama, F. (2011) Adapting cropping systems to climate change in Nepal: A cross-regional study of farmers’ perception and practices. Regional Environmental Change 11 (2): 335–348.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. McCright, A. (2010) The effects of gender on climate change knowledge and concern in the American public. Population and Environment 32 (1): 66–87.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Menapace, L., Colson, G. and Raffaelli, R. (2013) Risk aversion, subjective beliefs, and farmer risk management strategies. American Journal of Agricultural Economics 95 (2): 384–389.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Moser, S.C. (2010) Communicating climate change: History, challenges, process and future directions. WIREs Climate Change 1 (1): 31–53.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Nerlich, B., Koteyko, N. and Brown, B. (2010) Theory and language of climate change communication. WIREs Climate Change 1: 97–110.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Nielsen, T., Keil, A. and Zeller, M. (2013) Assessing farmers’ risk preferences and their determinants in a marginal upland area of Vietnam: A comparison of multiple elicitation techniques. Agricultural Economics 44 (3): 255–273.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Pant, J., Demaine, H. and Edwards, P. (2004) Assessment of the aquaculture subsystem in integrated agriculture-aquaculture systems in northeast Thailand. Aquaculture Research 35 (3): 289–298.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Patt, A.G. and Schröter, D. (2008) Perceptions of climate risk in Mozambique: Implications for the success of adaptation strategies. Global Environmental Change 18 (3): 458–467.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Pickering, T. et al (2011) Vulnerability of aquaculture in the tropical Pacific to climate change. In: J. Bell, J. Johnson and A.J. Hobday (eds.) Vulnerability of Tropical Pacific Fisheries and Aquaculture to Climate Change. Noumea, New Caledonia: Secretariat of the Pacific Community, pp. 647–731.Google Scholar
  41. Pimolrat, P., Whangchai, N., Chitmanat, C., Promya, J. and Lebel, L. (2013) Survey of climate-related risks to Tilapia pond farms in northern Thailand. International Journal of Geosciences 4: 54–59.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Rabinovich, A., Morton, T.A. and Birney, M.E. (2012) Communicating climate science: The role of perceived communicator’s motives. Journal of Environmental Psychology 32 (1): 11–18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Rao, K.P.C., Ndegwa, W.G., Kizito, K. and Oyoo, A. (2011) Climate variability and change: Farmer perceptions and understanding of intra-seasonal variability in rainfall and associated risk in semi-arid Kenya. Experimental Agriculture 47 (2): 267–291.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Raymond, C. and Spoehr, J. (2013) The acceptability of climate change in agricultural communities: Comparing responses across variability and change. Journal of Environmental Management 115: 69–77.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Regassa, N. and Stoecker, B.J. (2014) Attitude and risk perceptions about climate change in farming communities in Southern Ethiopia. Environmental Practice 16 (1): 29–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Renn, O. and Klinke, A. (2012) Complexity, uncertainty and ambiguity in inclusive risk governance. In: T. Measham and S. Lockie (eds.) Risk and Social Theory in Environmental Management. Collingwood: CSIRO Publishing, pp. 59–76.Google Scholar
  47. Safi, A., Smith, W. and Liu, Z. (2012) Rural Nevada and climate change: Vulnerability, beliefs, and risk perception. Risk Analysis 32 (6): 1041–1059.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Simelton, E. et al (2013) Is rainfall really changing? Farmers’ perceptions, meteorological data, and policy implications. Climate and Development 5 (2): 123–138.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Sjöberg, L. (2007) Emotions and risk perception. Risk Management 9: 223–237.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Su, Y., Sun, X.p. and Zhao, F. (2015) Trust and its effects on the public’s perception of flood risk: A social science investigation of the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze river. Journal of Flood Risk Management.Google Scholar
  51. Sundblad, E.-L., Biel, A. and Gärling, T. (2007) Cognitive and affective risk judgements related to climate change. Journal of Environmental Psychology 27 (2): 97–106.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Travis, W.R. (2014) What is climate risk management? Climate Risk Management 1: 1–4.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Tucker, C.M., Eakin, H. and Castellanos, E.J. (2010) Perceptions of risk and adaptation: Coffee producers, market shocks, and extreme weather in Central America and Mexico. Global Environmental Change 20 (1): 23–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Visschers, V. and Siegrist, M. (2008) Exploring the triangular relationship between trust, affect, and risk perception: A review of the literature. Risk Management 10: 156–167.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Weber, E.U. (2010) What shapes perceptions of climate change? WIREs Climate Change 1: 332–342.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Wise, R.M. et al (2014) Reconceptualising adaptation to climate change as part of pathways of change and response. Global Environmental Change 28: 325–336.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Yazdi, S. and Shakouri, B. (2010) The effects of climate change on aquaculture. International Journal of Environmental Science and Development 1 (5): 378–382.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Yi, Y. and Lin, C.K. (2001) Effects of biomass of caged Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) and aeration on the growth and yields in an integrated cage-cum-pond system. Aquaculture 195 (3–4): 253–267.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Phimphakan Lebel
    • 1
    • 2
  • Niwooti Whangchai
    • 1
  • Chanagun Chitmanat
    • 1
  • Jongkon Promya
    • 1
  • Louis Lebel
    • 2
  1. 1.Faculty of Fisheries Technology and Aquatic Resources, Maejo UniversityChiang Mai 50290Thailand
  2. 2.Unit for Social and Environmental Research, Chiang Mai UniversityChiang MaiThailand

Personalised recommendations