In collaboration with local fishermen, we are installing a network of simple, low cost artificial reefs to act as alternative fishing grounds, relieving pressure of over-fished reefs
Our artificial reef project was launched in October 2016, the first of its kind in the Bay of Ranobe. We plan to install simple, affordable, and replicable artificial reefs on degraded patch reefs across the Bay of Ranobe to act as alternative primary fishing sites for local fishermen, redirecting fishing pressure off fragile coral reefs. The artificial reefs are composed of locally sourced limestone boulders and concrete tubes. Limestone is ideal for artificial reef work as it mimic natural reef systems and is the perfect material to encourage reef organism settlement, while the concrete tubes provide habitats for octopuses and lobsters. Arrangement of these boulders into artificial reef bommies (a reef outcrop) creates structurally complex habitats in areas devoid of coral reefs to encourage colonisation of algal and invertebrates (including coral), which will in turn attract fish. We also intend to speed up the regeneration of corals reefs at these sites by transplanting coral fragments from our nurseries onto the artificial structures as part of our coral gardening project.
This project has three main long-term goals:
Increase fish and invertebrate populations in an attempt to reverse declining fisheries catches.
Provide fishermen with alternative fishing sites to redirect fishing pressure off over-exploited coral reefs.
Regenerate reef habitats on degraded patch reefs.
In the long-term, we aim to install a network of these bommies across the bay in order to restore coral reef habitat and create a series of alternative fishing sites. This project is being executed as a joint effort with Directeur Régional des Ressources Halieutiques et de la Pêche, Région Atsimo Andrefana – DRRHP (Ministry of Marine Resources and Fisheries), IOT, COPEFRITO, FRDA, Institut Halieutique et des Sciences Marines (University of Toliara), and importantly FI.MI.HA.RA (regional fishermen’s association), representing all 13 villages in the bay, in order to promote community ownership and project sustainability.
We purposefully choose a simple structural design and low cost local materials for these artificial reefs so that local communities can maintain and replicate these structures in the future without external assistance or intervention. We aim to provide FI.MI.HA.RA members with training on the implementation of these simple artificial reef techniques that can be maintained and replicated in the future without external assistance or intervention.
In October 2016, our artificial reef project was officially launched with a day of festivities that involved the whole village of Ifaty. The day was attended by important officials including the Minister of Fisheries Resources and the Mayor of Belalanda region, and was filmed by a national news crew. In addition to the actual installation of the artificial reef, there were speeches and entertainment. It was a wonderful day of community celebrations that saw everyone in the area working and celebrating together!
To date, three bommies have been constructed at a site we have named ‘Vato Mahavelo’, meaning ‘the rock that gives life’ in Malagasy. After just a few weeks in the water, our science team observed curious fish and new invertebrate residents moved in. The rocks quickly became covered in turf algae, providing food for the algae grazers among them. Our science team have now implemented a long-term monitoring programme at this site to record invertebrate colonisation and fish populations. Stay tuned via our blog for updates on project expansion and success.