Madagascar communities to establish marine protected areas

August 22, 2016

MG1 Project Udpate: Jan thru June 2016

In this period, Blue Ventures’ team focused on building the capacity of local partners and local communities in six sites – three islands, part of the Barren archipelago (Nosy Lava, Nosy Andrano and Nosy Maroantaly), two sites in Ampasimandroro, Maintirano District and one in Ambalahonko, Ambanja Districit. The capacity was built through a series of events presenting the importance of dugongs and their seagrass habitats. Two types of trainings– a quiz and a discussion – introduced communities from the six sites to dugongs and their biology, to seagrass and to participatory mapping of seagrass habitats.

Further to the discussions on participatory mapping, seven potential sites along the islands of Nosy Lava, Nosy Andrano and Nosy Maroantaly were identified but seagrass habitats were mapped and assessed in only four sites because of bad weather and fishers’ availability.

Eighteen community members participated in the mapping process and were able to dive and observe seagrass, which could help the establishment of a conservation monitoring system in place. While two important seagrass beds were located, the dugong sightings were scarce – according to discussions, the last individuals were observed more than ten years ago.

One GoPro underwater camera was purchased with GEF funds under MG1, which allowed for taking pictures and short films of the seagrass habitat and would help to assess the seagrass species. A second mission to cover the remaining three sites is planned for the next reporting period.

The trainings and the start of participatory mapping set the context for the development of management plans for the LMMA, introducing different restrictions related to the protection of and the establishment of a permanent “no take” seagrass reserves and cessation of targeted marine mammals hunting. In this regard,

Blue Ventures team focused on helping communities understand and define the management rules they would like to implement in their fishing zones and that will be beneficial to them.

As part of these discussions, communities were encouraged to develop permanent protected zones in areas with important habitat such as seagrasses. These discussions have a strong emphasis on guiding communities towards resource ownership and sustainable management, without being prescriptive or pushy.