Madagascar has little history of natural-resource regulation, and fishing villages have little input from the national government on fisheries management. Hence local-level governance and enforcement is critical to the implementation of marine protected areas and resource-use restrictions.
Between 2008 and 2010, scientists from a number of institutions, including the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), surveyed 519 fishers from 24 villages across the island. The results suggested that while the communities were generally supportive of gear restrictions (such as the banning of fine-mesh nets), they were less keen to support restrictions such as temporary seasonal closures and bans on the taking of specific species. The survey also revealed that many fishers felt that restrictions would benefit them, rather than the government, a situation that’s frequently reversed in countries with stronger national management.
‘The support for personal benefits and perceived sustainability from the island’s fishing communities was significant and widespread, which is good news as management plans are implemented for Madagascar’s fisheries,’ said the study’s lead author, Tim McClanahan of the WCS. ‘The survey results seem to run counter to assumptions that poor fishers with no history of government regulation would be resistant to most types of fisheries management.’
This story was published in the April 2014 edition of Geographical Magazine