Locally managed marine areas increase fish abundance in Madagascar

Locally managed marine areas increase fish abundance in Madagascar


Over the last decade WCS has led establishment of 25 legally recognized Locally Managed Marine Areas (LMMAs) and trained and supported 250 local Community Marine Rangers who enforce local fishing laws along 200 miles of coastline in Antongil Bay. As a result of WCS support to communities for management of their fishing grounds reef surveys show a tenfold increase in fish biomass between 2013 and 2015 within LMMAs. Biomass in the no-take zones doubled in the same period. In many communities destructive beach seining has now stopped.


In Antongil Bay in northeastern Madagascar, there are currently no on-site staff of the Madagascar Fisheries Surveillance Center (CSP) – the government agency in charge of fisheries law enforcement. Although the state banned the use of highly destructive beach seines (constructed by sewing together government and donor dispensed mosquito bed-nets), the practice has continued. Unsustainable fishing has resulted in a decline in fish catches and incomes of local fishers. To fill this law enforcement gap, the government devolved authority to coastal communities to establish and manage LMMAs. Within the 25 LMMAs that have been created with the support of WCS, communities have rights to specify and enforce fishing regulations such as no-take zones, temporary closures, and gear restrictions. Today, with WCS support, over 250 Community Marine Rangers are conducting regular patrols within the LMMAs to enforce the rules they set to manage their fishing grounds sustainably.


Saving Species IconSPECIES: In 2011, as part of a participatory assessment, local community members around LMMAs reported an increase in catch per hour fished; an increase in the size of fish caught; and an increase in the abundance of juvenile fish in the sea. In April 2013, underwater reef surveys showed significantly higher fish density and biomass inside LMMA no-take zones, as compared to fishing sites outside LMMAs. Follow-up surveys in 2015 showed a ten-fold increase in fish biomass from 70 kg/ha to 750 kg/ha within the restricted area of the LMMAs. In the no-take zone of the LMMAs, biomass almost doubled from 450 kg/ha to 750 kg/ha.

Protecting Habitat IconHABITAT: Community members noted during the 2013 assessment that within LMMAs there was a gradual recovery of habitats, especially seagrass.

Strengthening Management IconMANAGEMENT EFFECTIVENESS: Between 2014 and 2015, 120 beach seines were seized by Rangers and publically destroyed with the assistance of the Ministry of Fisheries. In some villages, the practice of beach seining has been stopped completely.

Effective Governance IconGOVERNANCE: Communities noted that as a result of the WCS LMMA project they had increased capacity to manage their fishery resources, and that there was greatly improved relations between local communities and government authorities thereby strengthening law enforcement.

Securing Livelihoods IconLIVELIHOODS: To demonstrate the utility of well-regulated LMMAs, communities decided to enact and enforce a temporary closure of the octopus fishery with technical assistance from WCS. After the fishery re-opened with access restricted to only legitimate local fishers’ catch per unit effort of octopus increased. Local community members noted an increase in the size of fish caught; reappearance of some valuable food-fish species, such as sardinella; and an increase in economic revenue from fishing.


GRAPH: Fish abundance increased significantly after WCS helped communities manage their LMMAs.
   MAP: WCS support to coastal fishing communities has dramatically reduced the use of illegal beach seine nets, increased fish abundance, and enabled the recovery of a valuable food fish.

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