Madagascar’s stunning coastline provides an impressive diversity of fresh seafood for locals and visitors alike. While seemingly abundant, the supply is not infinite and fishing needs to be managed sustainably to ensure that the ocean’s stocks are not depleted. A local community in Andavadoaka has, through the help of Blue Ventures, began a sustainable fishing initiative that showed such success it quickly spread through the rest of the country.
Blue Ventures is a UK based organization that focuses on marine conservation, in 2003 they became concerned with the dwindling octopus population in Andavadoaka. Due to increased demand, the local fishermen were catching male octopuses that were too small and in many cases hadn’t reached sexual maturity yet, this meant they were being killed before being able to reproduce and keep the population sustainable. Blue Ventures convinced the locals to set aside an octopus reserve – an area of 200 hectares where no octopus would be caught for a period of six months. Once the fishing restriction was lifted the octopus population had rebounded and octopus that was caught was much bigger, often double in size and triple in weight, allowing them to catch less at a time but making the same or even more of an income.
These incredible results were all it took to convince the fisherman that reserves like this should be more commonplace, and soon other fishing communities along the coast implemented their own Locally Managed Marine Areas (LMMAs). Blue Ventures believes that it is essential that marine conservation schemes enlist local fishing communities as allies in order to be truly successful. For this reason, they place as much emphasis on the rights of fishing communities as they do on the protection of endangered coral reefs or marine life.
This is an excellent example of conservationists and the local communities working together to create a sustainable solution to protecting marine life and local livelihoods. Something we as a responsible tourism operator fully support.