West Indian Ocean variability and East African fish catch

M. Jury*, T. McClanahan, J. Maina

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


We describe marine climate variability off the east coast of Africa in the context of fish catch statistics for Tanzania and Kenya. The time series exhibits quasi-decadal cycles over the period 1964-2007. Fish catch is up when sea surface temperature (SST) and atmospheric humidity are below normal in the tropical West Indian Ocean. This pattern relates to an ocean Rossby wave in one phase of its east-west oscillation. Coastal-scale analyses indicate that northward currents and uplift on the shelf edge enhance productivity of East African shelf waters. Some of the changes are regulated by the south equatorial current that swings northward from Madagascar. The weather is drier and a salty layer develops in high catch years. While the large-scale West Indian Ocean has some impact on East African fish catch, coastal dynamics play a more significant role. Climatic changes are reviewed using 200 years of past and projected data. The observed warming trend continues to increase such that predicted SST may reach 30°C by 2100 while SW monsoon winds gradually increase, according to a coupled general circulation model simulation with a gradual doubling of CO2.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)162-170
Number of pages9
JournalMarine Environmental Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • East Africa
  • Fish catch variability
  • Physical oceanography


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