Locally managed marine areas (LMMAs) have seen a rapid expansion in Madagascar in the past decade, in response to declining productivity in traditional fisheries and as the benefits of community-based management become more evident. Until recently, these LMMAs operated in relative isolation, with little communication or coordination between support organisations or implementing communities. In January 2012, during an informal meeting of community partners, the need to create a network for exchange amongst Madagascar's LMMAs became apparent. The concept was inspired by the success of the LMMA network in the Indo-Pacific region, which has proven effective at facilitating information sharing, and peer-to-peer learning amongst coastal communities. In order to explore the potential for such a network in Madagascar, the NGO partners organized an LMMA forum in Andavadoaka, southwest Madagascar to bring together community representatives from LMMAs throughout the country.
The forum took place from June 11 to 13, 2012 and involved representatives from 18 of Madagascar's LMMAs. Using the slogan "Zarazarao ty Tantaranao", meaning "Share Your Story", discussions over the course of the three days focused on encouraging LMMA representatives to share best practices, discuss challenges and successes and develop personal relationships. Following the forum, LMMA representatives travelled further south to the regional capital of Toliara to meet with government officials. The objective of this meeting was twofold: firstly to raise awareness among regional and national government officials of the scale of community-based coastal and marine resource management in Madagascar; and secondly to provide an opportunity for LMMA representatives to discuss challenges they face in local management, and to identify opportunities to enhance government support of LMMAs.
The forum received positive feedback from all participants and community representatives agreed that a second annual forum should be held next year in the north of country. The highlight of the forum was the formation of an informal LMMA network, named MIHARI, meaning "local marine resource management". Going forward, NGO partners will work to support the nascent network through capacity building of member, strengthening modes of communication, and facilitating further discussion.