A new study reviewing current legislation protecting megafauna in Madagascar highlights the current lack of legislation to protect endangered sharks in Madagascar. Marine turtles were also found to be susceptible to overexploitation, and although fully protected by national legislation, laws are often ignored and rarely enforced.
The research, carried out by Blue Ventures Conservation and Exeter University, reviewed fisheries, environmental and protected species legislation in Madagascar relating to marine megafauna; and international agreements ratified by Madagascar, such as CITES and CMS. Although there are numerous pieces of legislation in place that can be employed to protect and manage marine turtle and shark populations, gaps in the legislation itself and their enforcement, often render both species unprotected, and open to overexploitation.
The lack of legislation for many endangered shark species, in light of the growing number of species on CITES and CMS, is of particular concern. At present shark fishing by both domestic and international boats, under Fishing Partnership Agreements, are under minimal controls to manage or reduce the number of sharks they land.
Whilst recommendations for improved management include wider consultations of texts, clearer stipulations on penalties, and the need to implement a national programme for conservation and management of shark stocks, the important role that communities could play is also highlighted. There has been a proliferation of community-led marine management in Madagascar, including the country’s first shark sanctuary in Antongil Bay, where local communities are empowered to manage nearshore fishing grounds.
Endangered, essential and exploited: How extant laws are not enough to protect marine megafauna in Madagascar
Humber, F., Andriamahefazafy, M., Godley, B.J., Broderick, A.C.
Marine Policy, Volume 60, 2015, pp. 70 – 83