Written by Nereus Research Associate Ryan Swanson,
Congratulations goes to Vatosoa Rakotondrazafy for recently receiving the 2019 Whitley Award from The Whitley Fund for Nature (WFN) for her work with traditional small-scale fishing communities in Madagascar. Vatosoa was a fellow for the Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea (DOALOS) of The Nippon Foundation at University of British Columbia in 2015. In that capacity, she worked with Nereus Program co-directors Yoshitaka Ota (policy) and William Cheung (science), as well as program manager/research associate Andrés Cisneros-Montemayor and other various Nereus fellows.
Vatosoa coordinates the MIHARI (Madagascar Locally Managed Marine Area Network) network in Madagascar, which promotes local community management of traditional small-scale fisheries and sustainable use of marine resources. Established in June 2012 and supported by the MacArthur Foundation, MIHARI is a network of Locally Managed Marine Areas (LMMAs) that brings together over 200 community associations and NGOs that work with traditional small-scale fishing communities – important for a country that has approximately 500,000 traditional fishers. These LMMAs promote both marine conservation and more sustainable local fishing practices for small-scale fishers throughout Madagascar by using a combination of temporary fishing closures, permanent marine reserves, certain fishing gear restrictions, promoting alternative livelihoods, and restoring and managing mangrove forests. Use of LMMAs is showing potential as a successful strategy in improving food security, combating poverty and assisting coastal communities in adapting to climate change.
In Madagascar, traditional fishing communities can be remote, have poor infrastructure and lack access to formal education, and they rely on marine biodiversity and sustainable practices for their livelihoods and food security. Small-scale fishers also typically lack formal representation, or even a voice in the political arena. Vatosoa has dedicated herself to representing traditional fishers in Madagascar and fighting for their rights, as well as working with them to create guidelines and strategies to sustainably use their marine resources, including presenting a formal fisheries policy proposal to Madagascar’s Ministry of Fisheries in 2017.
According to WFN, Vatosoa’s upcoming project will:
- Expand the fishing community network to include three new coastal regions in Madagascar
- Coordinate comprehensive training in marine resource management and governance for 40 LMMA leaders
- Work with the Madagascar government to secure a legal status for LMMAs and create a small-scale fishery reserve area
- Promote knowledge sharing among 200 participating community management associations regarding marine conservation and the sustainable use of renewable marine resources to ensure best practices.
You can read more information and view videos on Vatosoa’s 2019 Whitley Award here, and learn more about the MIHARI network here. All information used in this summary came from the Whitley Fund for Nature (WFN) and MIHARI links above.
Image of HRH The Princess Royal presenting Vatosoa Rakotondrazafy with the 2019 Whitley Award is courtesy of Whitley Fund for Nature.