Categories Africa, Local and national reviews and examples, Madagascar, Newsflash, World

Vatosoa Rakotondrazafy Carrying the Voice of Many Malagasy Fishermen and Fisherwomen

Congratulations to Vatosoa Rakotondrazafy, MIHARI Network National Coordinator, who won the very prestigious 2019 Whitley Award! Mihari is a Member of the ICCA Consortium from Madagascar, a civil society movement which aims at supporting communities to safeguard marine resources. Please find below more information on her award:

The following article was directly extracted from the Whitley award website

Isolated communities

While rich in biodiversity, many coastal communities in Madagascar are remote and lacking in basic amenities. Poor infrastructure means fishers struggle to sell their products, and children rarely have access to formal education. However, their intimate knowledge of the sea and their vested interest in its protection makes local communities best placed to guide management of their marine environment.

Locally managed marine areas

With few safeguards in place, marine resources have been rapidly depleted in recent decades. Under Vatosoa’s coordination, the MIHARI network has taken steps to reverse this trend by connecting over 200 community associations and NGOs along the country’s 5,000km coastline to share best practice and develop management guidelines. Some of the Locally Managed Marine Areas (LMMAs) established within the network have demonstrated that a shift towards more sustainable fishing practices can yield impressive benefits for both people and marine life.

 

A united voice

Vatosoa is giving local fishers a voice. On the political stage, Vatosoa has championed the rights and needs of local fishers and their important role in marine management. In 2017 the network presented their proposal for fisheries policy reform to the Ministry of Fisheries and in 2018 the government made a commitment to work towards reserved areas for small-scale fishers.

Vatosoa’s project will:

  • Expand the network to support fishing communities in three new coastal regions in Madagascar.
  • Bring together leaders of 40 LMMAs for comprehensive training in the management and governance of their marine resources.
  • Work with government to secure legal status for LMMAs including the creation of a reserved area for small-scale fisheries.
  • Promote knowledge sharing between the 200 participating community management associations ensuring best practice in marine conservation and sustainable use.

Why it matters

  • In Madagascar 500,000 traditional fishers rely on marine biodiversity for livelihoods and food security
  • Almost all of Madagascar’s 18 ethnic groups are represented in the MIHARI network.
  • 90% of the species on Madagascar are found nowhere else on earth.

Images credit: Blue Ventures, Garth Cripps (fisherwoman)