By Nantenaina Ardo NIRISOA, Site Leader (Ambanja, Tsimipaika Bay, Madagascar).
More than seven years ago, when I was working as a fisheries and aquaculture technician in Ambanja in Madagascar’s northwest, I set up a network of fisheries data collectors. I had many discussions with the data collectors in Tsimipaika Bay, who reported the disappearance of shrimp and said fishers no longer caught any.
The situation has recently changed, with local fishers catching shrimp again and fishers coming from further afield to fish in Tsimipaika Bay. The reappearance of shrimps is a good sign that community-led conservation efforts around sustainable fisheries and mangrove management are working.
The government has helped these conservation efforts by transferring mangrove management rights to more than 10 community associations that established locally led measures to conserve and restore mangroves. The communities in Tsimpaka Bay restored up to 2000 hectares of mangroves over five years.
In remote areas where local enforcement of national and customary fisheries laws is a huge challenge, communities have done tremendous work to educate people about conservation measures and run patrols. As a result, people now have a greater understanding and respect for rules such as night fishing bans and fishing with nets that have a regulated mesh size.
The recent ban on shrimp trawlers fishing within two nautical miles of the coast has also relieved pressure on these fishing grounds and reduced destructive commercial fishing that destroys fish habitats. Seeing the return of shrimp further motivates everyone to keep advancing our efforts to manage marine and coastal areas sustainably for people and the planet. I hope that the return of the shrimps will encourage other communities to follow the example and efforts of the coastal and fisher communities in Tsimipaika Bay.