The remote fishing community of Andavadoaka, population 1,200, was acknowledged for its work in partnership with Blue Ventures and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) to develop community-run marine protected areas in the southwest region of the country.
Blue Ventures worked with Andavadoaka in 2004 to establish the world’s first community-run octopus no-take zone. The strategy, which created seasonal closures, not only ensures the long-term survival of octopus populations, but also results in greater yields for fishermen when the closures are opened each season.
The no-take zones proved so successful that the Madagascar government used the project as a model to develop national fisheries management legislation in 2005.
Neighbouring villages also approached Blue Ventures to create similar projects in their communities. More than two dozen villages across the region are now working with Blue Ventures and other NGOs to establish a massive community-run protected area that spans 700 square kilometres and protects coral reefs, mangroves and other threatened habitats.
Andavadoaka and its conservation partners understand the inextricable link between the local livelihoods and the health of the marine resources – and they recognise that the key to success is community involvement. Local villagers work alongside Blue Ventures and WCS research scientists to develop alternative sustainable livelihoods, including aquaculture businesses, the construction of a community owned eco-lodge, and the development of environmental education and eco-tourism programmes.
Andavadoaka hopes that the successes of its MPA programme will serve as a model for other villages, both in Madagascar and worldwide, demonstrating how local communities can protect their marine resources for the benefit of people and the marine environment.
The UNDP will announce the final five winners on World Environment Day, 5th June 2007.
For more information on the project please visit blueventures.org or www.andavadoaka.org.