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Blog: Turtle fishing in the Barren Isles

Blog: Turtle fishing in the Barren Isles

A complex conservation issue.

For the Vezo people of western Madagascar, fishing is not just a livelihood, it’s a way of life.

Subsistence fishing for turtles has been a traditional Vezo practice beyond living memory, and one that is often highly valued in Vezo communities. A family can eat well off a turtle catch for several days, providing a rich source of protein and fat, and there are many cultural rituals associated with turtle fishing that encourage respect for the captured animal, and reflect the Vezo’s intimate connection with the sea.

Turtle fishing is illegal in Madagascar; however, due to a rapidly increasing coastal population, a lack of alternative livelihoods, and the widespread decline in marine resources across the island’s waters, Vezo communities that are fishing for survival are likely to take whatever they can catch. This, in combination with a burgeoning illegal trade for turtle meat in some areas, has led to an observable decline in turtle numbers

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