Following the signature of a Programme agreement established with the Agence française de développement (AFD) in 2019, GRET began reflection on a commons-based approach in a dozen of its projects. Throughout the year, we will showcase these diverse projects, focusing on a variety of subject areas. Today: the Sustainable inshore fishing project in Antongil Bay, in Madagascar.
The Mananara-North biosphere reserve is home to marine and coastal ecosystems that are among the most productive and the most species-rich in Madagascar. Yet they are subjected to continuous degradation, threatening food security for almost 100,000 households living in this national park and depending almost exclusively on fishing. Since 2013, together with GRET, NGO Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) has been conducting marine conservation activities focusing on the creation of 40 locally managed fishing areas (LMFAs) in Mananara-North, the governance of which is entrusted to the fishermen themselves.
The project entitled Promoting the commons for sustainable inshore fishing in the Mananara-North biosphere reserve, conducted in partnership with Cirad and benefitting from financial assistance from Madagascar National Parks, aims to comprehensively analyse bottlenecks noticed in certain locally managed fishing areas through the prism of the commons. The project intends to readjust support strategies to facilitate better appropriation by the entire community of these fishing areas and place shared and inclusive governance at the heart of support systems.
Since the launch of the project, participative diagnoses of each LMFA territory were conducted by GRET, leading to joint action plans on management of coastal zones. An evolving role play called Fiarahamiasa was designed, tested and rolled out at several sites to strengthen fishermen’s ecological conscience. Fiarahamiasa makes it possible to explicitly make the connection between fishing (according to harvesting zones and intensity of fishing) and the dynamic of fish stock evolution, and to foster collective management decisions. In practice, it often led to the emergence of social solidarity strategies between the various fishermen aiming for a better spread of fishing and support for the most vulnerable to dissuade them from fishing in zones that are prohibited, because they are necessary for the regeneration of resources. In March 2019, a mission conducted by Cirad in these locally managed areas also made it possible to recall the importance of protecting subsistence fishing rights, whereas local policies on fishing encourage professionalisation of the small-scale fishing sector.
Now, the next stages will consist of strengthening awareness-raising and forums for discussion enabling minimisation of conflicts that locally managed fishing areas can generate and thereby improving their effectiveness, so that populations can hold all the cards for inclusive, sustainable, community-based management of their resources.