Our work addresses ecosystem degradation, natural resource over-exploitation, and extreme poverty
We monitor, manage, protect, and restore degraded coastal habitats in this region to conserve biodiversity and secure livelihoods.
Marine Resource Over-Exploitation
The Bay of Ranobe supports some of the highest fishing pressures in the entire region. Since agricultural practices have limited success in this region, the vast majority of the population seek existence from the sea. Over successive generations the fishing pressure has increased resulting in declining fish populations. Degraded marine habitats and concentrated fishing pressure mean that fewer and fewer people can make their living from the ocean. The competition for marine resources and extreme poverty in these communities leaves little incentive for sustainable management.
Current fisheries catches are now exceeding sustainable levels, pushing small-scale fisheries increasingly closer to the verge of collapse. Over-exploitation of fish stocks has resulted in an increase of fishing effort in order for communities to sustain a subsistence lifestyle. This has consequently exacerbated the problem, condemning many marine resources to exhaustion. Since over-exploited fisheries, once the lifeblood of these communities, can no longer provide an adequate income, fishermen are become desperate and increasingly hunting those species with a high market value, such as turtles.
We support community-led sustainable marine management initiatives.
A Scramble for Marine Resources
Madagascar experiences an annual population growth rate of 2.8%, one of the highest in Africa. This has led to an increase of both native coastal Vezo populations and also inland populations in the region. The rapidly expanding population is increasing the pressure on the remaining marine resources and habitats, and making it more difficult for traditional Vezo fishing communities to eke out an existence dependent on the sea. Furthermore, poor agricultural practices (slash and burn) have resulted in larger areas of land being unusable for crops, resulting in an influx of many farmers from the surrounding areas to fishing villages in the bay. Lack of cultural cohesion between the different tribes in the bay complicates the implementation of effective fisheries management.
In rural coastal communities, large families act as an insurance policy against misfortune and tough times, and provide an effective workforce – a small fleet of fishermen providing for the family. It is not uncommon for families to have 8 or 9 children, and given the limited job opportunities and poor education level among communities, most of these children are destined to become fishermen.
Extreme Poverty & Food Insecurity
The semi-arid, drought-prone region of Toliara province in the Southwest is the poorest region in Madagascar. Extreme poverty is widespread, as harsh living conditions drive more-and-more people towards the coast to seek marine resources from an already over-exploited ecosystem with dwindling fish stocks. Extreme weather events and locust plagues are compromising crops resulting in food insecurity and rising costs. Subsistence fishing enables people in this region to get by on $0.7–1.4 USD per day, well below the World Health Organisation’s poverty line set at $2 USD. Since these coastal communities are almost entirely reliant on marine resources for subsistence and economic income, the continuous decline in fish stocks is pushing communities further below the poverty line. Poor infrastructure, healthcare and access to fresh water, low employment opportunities and diversification, gender inequality, and a lack of an adequate education system exasperates the socio-economic situation further and increases levels of desperation.
In 2015-2016, we conducted a poverty assessment survey in 7 villages (2,500 people from 402 households) across the Bay of Ranobe. We found that 67% of people are living in acute poverty, 68% of households have at least one person who is malnourished, and 26% of the poor have a child aged 5-10 years who is not attending school.