Southern Toliara Marine Natural Resources Management Final and External Evaluation Report

Published: 2011 by WWF-Norway
Commissioned by:WWF-Norway
Carried out by:Lala RANAIVOMANANA, PhD
Tags:Madagascar, Primary industry (agriculture fishing forestry)


The coastal zone of the southern region of Toliara (also included into the Southwest Region referring to the new administrative structure recently established in Madagascar) has long been recognized for its extraordinary beauty, and its exceptional natural ecosystem, many areas of which are still intact. The area is home to a rich diversity of biological habitats, including coral reefs, lagoons, mangroves, dunes and spiny bush and forests which are unusual vegetation types dominated by densely spiny cactus-like plants. Many areas are still ecologically healthy, but some, such as coral reefs, coastal lagoons, and mangroves, have been severely degraded by human activities.

The ecosystem between Anakao and Androka, in the south - western region of Madagascar, has been subject to pressures from the Vezo people, an ethnic group of traditional fishermen, who consider themselves to be the owners of the sea and as such, manage marine resource use by means of taboos and traditional norms based on empirical knowledge of the dynamics of this ecosystem.

The ecosystem has also been subject to pressure - either occasionally or seasonally but at quite significant degrees and likely to bring about irreversible degradation - from destructive fishing practices by farmers and/or cattle raisers who seasonally revert to fishing because of insufficient harvests and lack of other livelihood opportunities. These two groups of fish resource users (fishermen and non-fishermen) are both economically vulnerable. The fishing population has no other means of subsistence than fishing. The others are increasingly indulging in fishing activities with inappropriate methods and techniques.

In such a situation, the ecosystem, already of a fragile type, is exposed to degradation due to the exploitation carried out by these two groups of socially and economically vulnerable users. This situation is worsened by the limited capacity of fishermen to invest in more sustainable and profitable methods of fishing and by the accentuated occurrence of sedimentation threatening the coral reef.

Project Goal:
The overall goal of this project is that local communities benefit from and contribute to the conservation of coastal and marine biodiversity in the southern Toliara region, Madagascar, through the sustainable use and participatory management of living marine and coastal resources, in collaboration with local fishermen, the Malagasy Fisheries Administration, collectors, retailers and the local populations and authorities

The evaluation was conducted through reviews of key project documents as well as meetings and discussions with key stakeholders. The field data collection included inquiries and surveys with the communities of three pilot sites (Maromena/Befasy, Beheloke and Itampolo). It also included interviews with focus groups consisting of members of the management committees in each site, and interviews with 8 persons (4 men and 4 women, with various age groups) who were not part of the local Management Committee.  The data collection also included interviews with main project partners like Madagascar National Parks through its representation in Anakao, the Fisheries Administration and WWF Antananarivo.

Key findings:
Overall, the project has generated positive impacts shown by the improvement in bio-ecological and socio-economic indicators:
- The monitoring by the project team of the Catch Per Unit Effort (CPUE) shows Improvement of the fish catch. The production average has increased for octopus (from 3.4 kg/day/fishermen in 2009 to 11.1 kg/day/fishermen in 2011), for squid (from 2.7 kg/day/fishermen to 7.2 kg/day/fishermen), for lobsters (from 0.9 kg/day/fishermen to 10.4 kg/day/fishermen), for sea cucumbers (from 9.4kg/day/fishermen to 13.2 kg/day/fishermen) and for fish (from 8.5kg/day/fishermen to 10.3 kg/day/fishermen).  The increase in CPUE indicates an increase in fishermen income;

- Bio indicators such as the presence of some fish species like angarera (Haemulidae), atendro (Liza macrolepsus), ambatsoy (Serranidae), lovo (Serranidae), fianakoho (Chaetodontidae) which had previously disappeared indicates an improvement of the health of reef ecosystem. In addition, the reduction of some species such as bodoloha (Scaridae), fiantsifa (Acanthuridae) which are bio indicators for poor reef ecosystem health, indicate that environmental conditions of the coastal area have improved;

- Through the establishment of Dinas , community-based organizations in pilot sites were actively & effectively involved in the sustainable use & management of living marine & coastal resources;
- The improvement of seafood catches is very positive, raising the “ownership” (appropriation) of the Project and consequently its sustainability;

- In addition, beyond the Project’s purposes, Project induced other changes (unanticipated impacts) on the local governance in general. Local populations have perceived an improvement in community mobilization;

- Weaknesses included inadequate communication feedback from Fisheries administration due to bureaucratic difficulties and the non-functioning of the fisheries and marine biodiversity database. Management plans could not be institutionalized by Fisheries Administration which constitutes an obstacle to co-management;

- The small-scale alternative livelihoods activities in Output 4 aimed at creating positive socio-economic impacts in pilot sites have had very limited achievement. The assessment of existing income generating activities in pilot sites was realized but no new income generating activities were implemented reflecting a strategic weakness and lack of a suitable financing mechanism;

- Finally, results of this Project constitute an interesting academic case study of participative natural resources management which deserves to be diffused for a replication both in term of approach and in term of scientific capitalization.

Comments from the organisation, if any:
As noted by the external evaluator, the project has generated positive impacts both for Toliara coastal communities and for the adjacent coastal environment. The key findings of this project show that in a Malagasy context where the political situation is relatively unstable and that local administration is failing to manage natural resources properly, a participative and sustainable marine resources management is the right approach to tackle the socio-economic and environmental challenges of Malagasy coastal communities. WWF-Norway therefore recommends that the lessons learned from this project be transcribed into policies and implemented so that local fishing communities can be increasingly mandated to co-manage their natural resources, which will ultimately benefit the state of their natural resources and increase their income.  WWF-Norway will support the WWF MWIOPO programme in this task in its new 2012-2016 strategy. 

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