Sainte Luce is a key lobster fishery, making a significant contribution to annual landings in the Anosy region. Here, fishermen navigate dangerous seas in poorly constructed canoes for the chance to earn around £1 per day. Lobster are of considerable economic importance in Sainte Luce, as lobster fishing is a core income generating activity for 80% of households.
However, in recent years, overfishing, illegal practices and increasingly unpredictable weather patterns have begun to threaten the security of Sainte Luce’s lobster industry. With the local forest also in decline, fishermen are finding it harder to source the materials they need to fish, and there are very few other employment opportunities in the region.
Lobster fishing is a core income generating activity for 80% of households in Sainte Luce.
SEED Madagascar has partnered with the fishermen of Sainte Luce to create a Locally-Managed Marine Area. We helped the community to hold meetings and decide on a suite of management measures.These include; a Minimum Landing Size,a ban on landing berried (egg bearing) females and a periodic No Take Zone (NTZ). A community-elected “Riaky” (Sea) Committee is responsible for enforcing these rules, with technical and management assistance from SEED Madagascar.
In order to increase lobster populations, the community decided to set aside 13km2 area of key habitat within the fishery as a periodic NTZ where – for the majority of the year – lobster fishing does not take place. After closing the zone for 10 months it was opened during August - September 2014, resulting in increased catches for the fishermen. The community therefore decided to repeat the process, and has continued to do so through the 2016 lobster fishing season. SEED Madagascar will again support them in enforcing the local rules and conduct research to inform and assess the community management. Having seen the great results of the first two phases of the project, the neighbouring communities of Elodrato and Itapera has also asked to be included in Phase 3, looking to create community designed and enforced NTZs of their own.
The project has been funded by SmartFish; a regional fisheries project managed by the Indian Ocean Commission, co-implemented by the FAO and funded by the European Union.