by Kame Westerman, Velondriake MPA Project Coordinator, Madagascar
The Bay of Assassins, in the southern area of the Velondriake LMMA, is home to vast tracts of mangrove forest. These forests provide local communities with building materials and daily food supplies – including crab, shrimp, snails and fish. The mangrove ecosystem is also crucial for the life cycles of many reef fish species that seek shelter in the mangroves as juveniles. Because of this, mangrove forest conservation is key to coastal and marine management initiatives and long-term food sustainability.
Recognizing this importance, two villages within the Bay of Assassins have committed to permanently protecting some of this crucial habitat. On May 29th, the Isony Reserve was officially closed with a traditional ancestral ceremony. As with the other permanent reserves in the LMMA, a zebu cow was sacrificed while a local elder blessed the reserve and asked the ancestral spirits for their support.
With this recent closure, Velondriake has now officially closed five marine reserves and one mangrove reserve. It is hoped that support for protecting these crucial areas will continue to grow and that more areas are put into permanent protection over the coming years.