Lobster fishers from Sainte Luce travelled almost 1,000 kilometres across southern Madagascar to learn about temporary octopus closures.
Sainte Luce is one of the main contributors to the region’s spiny lobster fishery, which itself accounts for a staggering 70% of the entire nation’s production, yielding up to 300 tonnes every year. Lobster represents a lucrative business for local fishers, and is the economic lifeblood of their community, with seafood buyers flying in from the nearby town of Fort Dauphin to purchase catches for export to Europe and Asia. Worryingly though, recent research suggests that the spiny lobster fishery is likely to collapse within the next decade unless sustainable management principles are urgently applied.
With this in mind, SmartFish kindly supported a community exchange, sending a delegation of lobster fishers from Sainte Luce to visit Andavadoaka (Blue Venture’s base of operations) where they could learn about implementing temporary closures from the experts themselves, including both staff and local community. In late July, this intrepid group spent time exchanging ideas and experiences with the local Velondriake Association, going on several field trips and holding animated discussions covering topics including how to build community acceptance of temporary closures, develop and enforce dina (local management rules), and monitor the impact on catches.
One of the things that really struck the Sainte Luce fishers was the similarity between their village and the situation in Andavadoaka, particularly in terms of engaging with seafood buyers such as Copefrito and Martin Pecheur, both of whom are supportive of the temporary closure model as it is proven to increase the productivity of fisheries.
The visit encouraged the Sainte Luce fishers to reflect on their own practices, the sustainability of marine resources in general, and the urgent need for greater management in their village. They were inspired to see how the success of the temporary octopus closures in Andavadoaka had catalysed broader management efforts by the community, ultimately leading to the creation of “Velondriake” as a locally managed marine area with permanent reserves for coral reefs, mangroves and seagrass beds. This is something that they hope to work towards in Sainte Luce, starting with the lobster no-take zone. Image: Meetings with Velondriake members
In addition to discussing temporary fishery closures, the delegation was also keen to understand how this management tool fits into Blue Ventures’ broader integrated approach, including the development of sea cucumber and seaweed farms as alternative coastal livelihoods.
The exchange provided the lobster fishers with valuable first-hand insights into a successful marine resource management initiative, and they returned to Sainte Luce buoyed with greater confidence and knowledge; eager to share their learning from Andavadoaka, and prepared to implement the first temporary lobster fishery closure with their community.
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The delegation from Sainte Luce with members of the Velondriake association