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Vulnerability and adaptive capacity of rural coastal fishing communities in Ghana to climatic and socio-economic stressorsThe global fishing industry is a source of livelihood for about 820 million people. About 90% of this number are small-scale fisherfolk and traders, living in rural fishing-dependent communities in tropical, developing, and least developed countries. Although the industry generates about $362 billion annually, fishing-dependent communities are generally characterised by chronic poverty and deprivation. Decrease in fish productivity and availability in tropical regions, as well as, increase in the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events due to climate change processes have exacerbated the plight of fishing-dependent communities. In 1970, an agenda for research and development of small-scale fishing was set out. However, rural fishing communities are still considered the poorest of the poor today. They are also considered the most vulnerable as future climate change predictions indicate more extreme events and further reductions in maximum fish catch and revenue potentials. Therefore, there are continued calls for research efforts to understand the impacts of multiple climatic and socioeconomic stressors on small-scale fishing livelihoods, in order to identify viable, context-specific management and policy interventions that can reduce their vulnerability. Using two rural coastal fishing communities in Ghana as a case study, the purpose of this study was to explicate how rural coastal fishing-dependent communities in a tropical context are impacted by the interaction of climatic and socio-economic factors and identify viable policy and management options to enhance their adaptive capacity. Three key research questions guided the study: (i) what are the various factors that impact small-scale fishing livelihoods/households, and how do they interact to shape vulnerability? (ii) how are the fishing communities adapting to current livelihood stressors? and, (iii) What context-specific policy and management interventions are needed to enhance their adaptive capacity and safeguard their wellbeing. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) vulnerability framework and the Sustainable Livelihoods Approach (SLA) were integrated as the theoretical underpinnings of the study. A mixed-methods approach was adopted. A total of 120 fishing households were selected and surveyed through a stratified-snowball sampling technique. Several gender and age-group disaggregated focus groups with participatory activities, semi-structured interviews, and key informant discussions were also conducted to collect primary data. These were combined with climatic data to assess each household’s vulnerability, and through triangulated analyses, explicate how it is mediated by socio-cultural, institutional, and policy structures.