Submitted by: Blue Ventures Conservation
Implemented country: United Kingdom
Title: Madagascar's First Marine Protected Area
Artisanal octopus fishing is the primary source of income for the indigenous Vezo coastal communities of southwestern Madagascar, but recent escalation in fishing intensity has degraded the pristine reef habitats and caused a severe decline in the octopus harvest. The loss of income threatens the survival of the community, for whom few alternative employment opportunities exits. Protecting the region’s biodiversity and the fishers’ livelihood is inextricably linked to promoting more sustainable resource use, and so a community-managed Marine Protected Area (MPA) was established and closed to octopus fishing for a trial seven-month period. The closure resulted in a doubling of both the average weight of octopus and catch per unit effort. In a very short time, this grassroots MPA project has taken significant steps towards enhancing the economic and social sustainability of subsistence fishing practices and is already stimulating local and national requests for replication elsewhere.