Interview with Lalaina Rakotonaivo, Small scale fisheries officer "the mangrove is a productive ecosystem"

Posted on 20 July 2021
1. Lalaina, what is the current state of fisheries and fishery resources in Madagascar?
The fisheries and aquaculture sectors (marine and freshwater fisheries) produced a total of 130,725 tons in 2019 (OEPA Report, November 2020).  63% of this production comes from small-scale and traditional fisheries. They represent an export value of 575 billion Ariary. The fisheries resources contribute 9.72 billion Ariary to the non-tax revenues of the State. The last national framework survey developed in 2012 by the ministry in charge of fisheries identified 2,531 fishing villages. The regions of Diana and Sava occupy the first place with respectively 338 and 247 fishing villages. The population of fishing households represents 45% of the total population living in fishing villages. (National Framework Survey 2011-2012)
2. Why should fisheries resources be exploited in a sustainable manner?

The development of fisheries can reduce the abundance of exploited resources if fishing activities are not carried out in a sustainable manner. Reefs and other marine habitats are also threatened with destruction by these unsustainable practices. This situation also contributes to overexploitation, resulting in the depletion of stocks, which could affect (i) the country's economy (ii) the living conditions of coastal communities that depend on marine resources for survival (iii) and the dynamics of ecosystems. This is because the interactions between the resources and the ecosystems in which they are found will be modified.
3. How do we ensure the sustainable management of fisheries resources?

The management of marine resources requires a collective awareness. All stakeholders are concerned and everyone must contribute to achieve this. For WWF in particular, local communities are the major element in this management of marine resources since they provide knowledge on an environment that they know very well. In addition, they provide scientific expertise and knowledge that is useful to decision-makers in making decisions.
The marine resource management communities, grouped in the MIHARI network, manage more than 80 locally managed marine areas (LMMAs). WWF is one of the organizations that provide technical support for sustainable resource management, in collaboration with the authorities and the private sector. However, all the actors intervening in the marine environment (tourist operators, seaweed producers, fishing operators...) are involved in this sustainable management. Together with community associations, they are responsible for defining the best strategies for conserving marine biodiversity while ensuring sufficient production for the population, export, and the market of fishery resources.

4. What is the purpose of data collection? And how is it done?

Data collection is done in large part with local communities, but also with specialist researchers and/or through agents of the ministry in charge of fisheries. 
The objective of data collection is to have up-to-date and real information, useful for decision-making. It also serves to provide information on the level and trend of exploitation of marine resources. Finally, data collection is important to frame and implement more effective management measures.
Together with local communities and partners, WWF started to operationalize the monitoring and data collection system on small-scale fishing (fishing activity reserved for individuals, practiced in waters under Malagasy jurisdiction using motorized boats less than 15 HP, and non-motorized boats or on foot.) in 2012
Data collection is done using collection forms, but with the advancement of technology, WWF has experimented with the use of smartphones with a mobile application, the "Survey 123". In total, WWF works with 140 data collectors who monitor small-scale fisheries catches in 52 sites across its priority seascapes in Diana, Menabe/Melaky and Atsimo Andrefana.
5. A few words on mangroves and fishery resources from mangroves?

It is important to know that the abundance of fishery resources depends on the health and integrity of marine and coastal ecosystems. Mangroves are at the same time habitat, fishing area and nursery area for certain products such as crabs, shrimps and fish. Unfortunately, the degradation of the mangrove caused by human activities (uncontrolled exploitation for firewood, conversion into rice fields, climate change...) has very significant effects on the dynamics of this ecosystem and its productivity. A better management of this ecosystem will first contribute to improve the living conditions of the local communities who earn their living through the exploitation of the fishery resources (crabs, shrimps, fish). Then, this better management ensures the maintenance of various ecological functions and especially a function of support of cultural and tourist activities. In short, "the mangrove is a productive ecosystem.”
 It is therefore decisive to maintain the properties of mangroves and to implement a management strategy for this ecosystem in order to ensure its productivity, its bio ecological function and its integrity.
To illustrate this productivity, here is an example: data collection in Ambaro Bay, northwest of Madagascar estimated 6.95 kg of crabs caught in mangroves per fisherman per trip in 2019. With sustainable fishing techniques, in 2020, each fisherman caught 9.58 kg per trip in 2020.