By Kame Westerman, Velondriake MPA Project Coordinator. Mangroves are important habitats for juvenile fish, crabs, shrimp and sea cucumbers. Mangrove forests are also popular fishing areas for many local villages, and, without proper management, can become over harvested.
In order to protect these important ecological functions and prevent exploitation, two villages in southern Velondriake declared a section of their forests temporary reserves in early July, to be closed for three months. Earlier this week, the two reserves opened again to legal harvest. After a ritual blessing from the ancestors conducted by a village elder, community members fished using nets and spears. Blue Ventures staff and Velondriake members were on hand to measure and record fish catches. Happy with the outcome, village leaders proposed another closure starting in January.