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George Washington University

Publication Date

Fall 2011

Program Name

Madagascar: Biodiversity and Natural Resources Management


Traditional fisheries are globally recognized as an important supplier of food resources. In fact, “small-scale fisheries provide over half the world’s wild-caught seafood” (Shester and Micheli, 2011). All around the southern tip of Madagascar, the traditional fishing industry acts as one of the most common livelihoods. The island nation contributes 120,000,000 tons of aquatic resources to the world supply each year, the majority of which is caught by traditional fishermen found in 1,250 rural villages all around the island. However, 80% of the catch is consumed locally, pinpointing the main goal of these traditional fishermen: to feed their families (RAZANOELISOA, 2011). Rural villagers in Madagascar live in some of the poorest conditions in the world, relying on nature for their livelihoods. Madagascar’s annual GDP is ranked 127th out of the 177 countries in the world with 50% of its citizens living below the poverty line, and only 30% of the population living in an urban environment (United States CIA, 2011). The remaining 70% of the population dwells in rural regions, including traditional fishing villages. As a result, the importance of fish in the lives of these rural village families is phenomenal, and the necessity to preserve their livelihoods is a matter of life and death. Due to the rapidly increasing population of Madagascar, the marine and freshwater resources are facing increased pressures. As a result, local governmental organizations, such as La Service de la Pêche of the Anosy region, have placed regulations on the traditional industry in order to slow the rapidly changing status of these resources. These regulations, including seasons for fishing and size requirements for shellfish, face increasing pressure from both ! ! (! conservationists and local fishermen. As catch rates decline and the lives of fishermen are continually challenged by poverty, professionals question the ability of the local governments to regulate the industry. In terms of lake fisheries in Madagascar, the regulations hold more weight. According to the current Director of fishing in the Anosy region of Madagascar, Chrysostophe RAZAMIFIMANDIMBY, the fish species within lakes are much more threatened because the ecosystems are more sensitive (RAZAFIMANDIMBY, October 4th 2011). Slight changes in the environment can rapidly change the populations of species. As a result, excess fishing in a closed lake basin can lead to severe degradation of resources, placing increased hardships on the livelihoods of traditional fishermen.


Family, Life Course, and Society | Inequality and Stratification | Natural Resources and Conservation | Natural Resources Management and Policy | Sustainability


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