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By communities, for communities

Throughout the world’s oceans, there is growing evidence that marine conservation works best when local communities are responsible for fisheries management. This is particularly the case in low-income countries, where national capacity for enforcement of marine and fisheries legislation may be weak.

LMMA Locally Managed Marine Areas (LMMAs) are areas of ocean managed by coastal communities to help protect fisheries and safeguard marine biodiversity. Found throughout the world’s tropical and subtropical seas, and encompassing diverse approaches to coastal management and governance, their sizes and contexts vary widely, but all share the common theme of involving coastal communities in marine and fisheries management.

From countries as far afield as Fiji and Costa Rica, LMMAs have proven highly effective in reducing local conflicts over fisheries, conserving marine biodiversity and improving catches. 

LMMAs in Madagascar

For over a decade, Blue Ventures has been supporting coastal communities in Madagascar to establish dynamic and locally appropriate conservation strategies and governance systems that improve fisheries sustainability and climate change resilience.

With some of the world’s largest locally led marine conservation initiatives, Madagascar is leading the way in the Indian Ocean’s rapidly growing LMMA movement. As of 2014, Madagascar has a total of 36 LMMAs, the majority focused on the vast coral reef and mangrove ecosystems of the country’s west coast. These LMMAs cover a total area of nearly 11,000 square kilometres - 11% of Madagascar’s continental shelf - and are under management by communities working with local authorities and NGOs. Most are currently being incorporated into the Madagascar Protected Areas System (SAPM) as sustainable use areas, conforming to the IUCN Category V and VI classifications.

Our work

Our LMMA programme focuses on three zones along Madagascar’s west coast, which together include more than 70 communities, a combined coastal population of more than 50,000 people, and a total marine area of almost 6,000 square kilometres - equivalent to 820,000 football pitches. In all of these communities, fishers have experienced severe declines in catches over recent decades for all harvested species, especially high-value fisheries such as sea cucumbers and large pelagic and reef fish.
LMMA We are training and supporting communities throughout these LMMAs to monitor their natural resources and establish management systems that will enable them to reverse this decline. Through the use of dina - community bylaws that are recognised by the government - many of our partner communities have designed effective rules that can be enforced locally to ban destructive fishing practices, protect endangered species, and designate priority marine and coastal areas for protection.

To ensure the long-term financial sustainability of these LMMAs, we are working to develop market-based incentives for communities to conserve the ecosystems that underpin their livelihoods. Among these mechanisms are innovative marine ecotourism programmes, voluntary payment schemes and eco-certifications for sustainable fisheries, and the production of carbon credits through mangrove REDD+.

Recent successes

  • Creation of Velondriake, the first LMMA in Madagascar to embark on registration as a nationally-recognised protected area
  • Development of an award-winning marine conservation ecotourism business, providing the Velondriake LMMA with a sustainable source of revenue for ongoing management
  • Expansion of the LMMA model to communities to the south and north of Velondriake, inspiring and guiding the creation of seven more large-scale LMMAs in the south and west of Madagascar
  • Establishment of over 170 community-managed temporary fishing closures at sites around southwest Madagascar, based on a model for community-based fisheries management first developed in Velondriake
  • Development of the largest community-based monitoring programme for artisanal sea turtle and shark fisheries in the western Indian Ocean
  • Barren Isles being established as the largest community-run marine protected area in the western Indian Ocean

Networking communities

The LMMA approach to coastal management is gaining momentum and popularity among communities, government authorities and conservation organisations throughout Madagascar and the broader western Indian Ocean region. Yet despite notable successes, many of these pioneering grassroots conservation initiatives are being developed in isolation, with limited communication or sharing of lessons learned between isolated communities.
Our experience in Madagascar has shown that peer-to-peer learning is a highly effective tool for building local capacity and confidence for fisheries management and catalysing the adoption of community-led conservation efforts. With this in mind, we are supporting Madagascar’s growing network of LMMAs to promote the exchange of know-how, experiences and best practice. The cornerstone of this network is a regular meeting of LMMA representatives from throughout Madagascar, providing an invaluable opportunity to meet face-to-face, share experiences, explore common issues and develop collaborative solutions.

Beyond Madagascar, LMMAs are also being developed in Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique and beyond, with local fishing communities building their marine resource management skills and often gaining greater management authority from the state. As in Madagascar, communities and their supporting partners can experience difficulties communicating between sites, and especially across national borders. Following a series of regional and international LMMA workshops, we are working to encourage communication and information exchange between LMMAs across the Indian Ocean, with LMMA communities in Madagascar hosting visitors from Kenya, Tanzania, Seychelles, Mauritius, and Comoros.

LMMAs supported by Blue Ventures in Madagascar


In response to growing signs of overexploitation of fisheries in Andavadoaka, where Blue Ventures first established field operations in Madagascar in 2003, coastal management efforts began with a pilot initiative to establish seasonal closures of octopus fishing grounds. These experimental reserves succeeded in boosting catches and fisher incomes, and inspired the creation of a LMMA called ‘Velondriake’ (meaning ‘to live with the sea’) in 2006, bringing together representatives from Andavadoaka and 24 surrounding villages to create a management and zoning plan that includes permanent reserves, temporary fishery closures, zones designated for aquaculture, and a set of community-developed and enforced rules (dina) prohibiting the use of destructive fishing. Temporary protected status was granted by the Government of Madagascar in 2010, and definitive protected status is expected to be acquired in 2014. 


Located just south of Velondriake and based in the village of Ambatomilo, Manjaboaka is an LMMA that is fast following in the footsteps of its northern neighbour. Since 2010, villages in the area have established temporary fishery closures and worked to reduce the use of destructive fishing techniques.


Located north of Velondriake around the town of Morombe, Tearike is a LMMA that has been established to address the issue of destructive fishing and poaching by fishers moving between Morombe and Velondriake. The local management association adopted the name ‘Teariake’ (meaning ‘to love the sea’) and is implementing temporary fishery closures and educational outreach activities tailored to this urban setting.

Belo sur Mer

We are working with Madagascar National Parks to establish a marine extension to the existing terrestrial Kirindy-Mite national park near Belo sur Mer, some 200 kilometres north of Velondriake. With extensive mangrove forests, much of the traditional fishery is focused on crab and shrimp. 2011 saw the area’s first community management action; the creation of three temporary mangrove reserves around the villages of Belo sur Mer and Antanimanimbo, which was led by the local association ‘Be Andriaky’ (meaning ‘to grow up with the sea’). Reserves have since been replicated in several villages further north of Belo sur Mer.

The Barren Isles

The Barren Isles archipelago is one of the few remaining strongholds of thriving marine biodiversity in the western Indian Ocean; home to some of the region’s healthiest coral reefs, this diverse ecosystem supports the livelihoods of more than 4,000 traditional fishers. Until recently these nomadic communities lived in close association with this unique seascape, migrating through the islands following seasonal fish stocks. However, pressures on the archipelago have proliferated in recent years; unsustainable and destructive fishing, conflict between small-scale and industrial fishers, and mineral resource exploration. Responding to these challenges, Blue Ventures and Madagascar’s Ministry of Environment are working together to help local coastal communities create a LMMA around the Barren Isles, which is set to become the country’s largest protected area.



LMMA factsheet Nascent LMMA network
Locally led marine conservation factsheet Madagascar's nascent locally managed
marine area network
Barren Isles archipelago factsheet

Westerman et al
Westerman  Gardner Marine reserves 4020 2-1 LMMA forum coverV2-1
 Building socio-ecological resilience to
climate change through community-based
coastal conservation and development:
experiences in southern Madagascar

Adoption of socio-cultural norms to 
increase community compliance 
in permanent marine reserves 
in southwest Madagascar
"Share your story":
Madagascar's first locally managed
marine area (LMMA) forum

Out of sight
thewiomsa magazine issue no 5-1 Dina
 Out of sight but no longer out of mind:
a climate of change for marine
conservation in Madagascar
Expansion of community-based 
marine conservation in the 
western Indian Ocean region
L'utilisation du dina comme outil
de gouvernance des ressources naturelles:
leçons tirés de Velondriake, sudouest de Madagascar

To Live With The Sea
Blue-Ventures-Barren-Isles-1   Dina
 To live with the sea: development
of the Velondriake community-managed
marine protected area network,
southwest Madagascar
Feasibility study on the protection 
and management of the 
Barren Isles ecosystem, Madagascar
L'utilisation du dina comme outil 
de gouvernance des ressources naturelles:
leçons tirés de Velondriake, sudouest de Madagascar