The Kirindy-Mite Marine Protected Area (MPA) has been implemented as a marine extension to the existing Kirindy-Mite National Park. The core and buffer zones of the MPA, which currently benefit from a two-year temporary protection, will be managed by Madagascar National Parks (MNP) as a national marine park, and the surrounding “protection” zones will be a community-managed area focusing on sustainable use of marine resources. The MPA is still in the midst of the establishment process with core protection areas already being decided, but no physical infrastructure yet installed, and governance institutions still to be established.
A baseline socio-economic assessment was conducted throughout 11 villages within the vicinity of the national park in order to: gauge community perceptions of (1) the current state of marine resources and (2) the MPA establishment process, and finally to (3) inform the ongoing MPA establishment process. The indicators identified for evaluation in this baseline assessment have been derived from preliminary MPA goals and objectives, and should be the focus of ongoing monitoring in subsequent years.
The coastal communities of the Kirindy-Mite area exhibit low levels of formal education, a high dependence on harvesting of marine resources, and low persification of livelihood strategies. The traditional fishery of the Kirindy-Mite area is in marked decline, as a result of environmental stressors, such as cyclones and sustained high water temperatures leading to mass coral bleaching, as well as sustained fishing pressure from traditional, artisanal and industrial fishers. This situation leaves fishing communities of the Kirindy-Mite area highly susceptible to a potential future collapse of the traditional fishery.
Despite a participatory approach being taken by the MPA manager, Madagascar National Parks, including village, communal, inter-communal and regional level public consultations, community knowledge of the MPA zoning and rules and regulations is currently very low.
This study recommends that a number of actions be made a priority by the MPA manager and partner organisations, including the following:
- Finalisation, and subsequent awareness-raising in stakeholder communities, of MPA governance prerequisites such as:
- MPA management and zoning plan
- Enforcement procedures for rules and regulations
- Installation of MPA infrastructure (buoys, signage, etc.)
- Establishment of community-based patrol and enforcement committees (comité de vigilance)
- Awareness-raising activities to improve knowledge of MPA zoning, rules and regulations in stakeholder communities.
- Lobbying to regional and national authorities for the obtaining of temporary protection for the surrounding “protection zone” in order to effectively enforce a ban on industrial and artisanal shrimp trawlers.
- Environmental education activities to increase awareness among fishing communities of the potential for no-take marine reserves to benefit traditional fisheries.
- Development of alternative livelihoods to decrease dependence and alleviate pressure on marine resources.
- Finally, a schedule for the ongoing monitoring of socioeconomic and governance indicators is proposed.