Supervisors: Garth Cripps, Olivia Kemp, Kate England or Charlotte Gough
Duration: 6 months
Since 2011, Blue Ventures has been working with communities in and around the rural village of Belo-sur-Mer, western Madagascar, to implement short-term closures (3-5 months) of discrete areas of mangrove forest and associated fishing grounds (mangrove creeks).
These closures have focused primarily on improving catches of the commercially important mud crab (Scylla serrata), but anecdotal evidence, and impressive production on reserve opening days, has suggested that there may be knock-on effects in abundance in local fish populations. While these temporary closures benefit from strong community support, and have begun to spread to surrounding villages, significant gaps in our understanding of the population dynamics of mangrove-associated fish species impede our ability to inform local management associations as to the optimal size and timing of these reserves.
A key phenomenon to generating community support for temporary mangrove closures has been a perceived increase in abundance of local fish populations upon reserve openings. Anecdotal evidence from fishers who are familiar with these fishing grounds has suggested that in some cases the 3-5 month closures have dramatically increased fish populations.
Mangroves are widely understood to be crucial fish breeding grounds, and to play an important role in the life histories of many coral reef associated fish species. The observation by local fishers is that short-term closures are dramatically increasing abundance of certain fish species. However, a lack of understanding regarding mangrove fish population dynamics and the impacts of reserves on mangrove-associated fish has limited our ability to provide guidance to local management associations regarding mangrove fisheries management.
This research will aim to elucidate the impacts of short term mangrove fisheries closures on local fish population. Additionally, this research will aim to understand how the abundance of fish in mangroves is influenced by tidal cycles, and what the implications of this relationship are on the timing of reserve openings. Other problems will be investigated as part of this research, including the potential impact of “fisher flooding” during reserve openings, when fishers saturate small areas. This problem will be investigated by gaining an understanding of the timing of life history traits for target species.
This project will require an analysis of existing data and literature review in order to understand why fishers are seeing more fish upon reserve openings, and how this impacts local fish populations.
The effects of short-term spatio-temporal closures of mangrove areas on fish populations
Independent research projects (2013-2014) - Madagascar
- The effects of short-term spatio-temporal closures of mangrove areas on fish populations
- Visualisation of traditional crab captures data in western Madagascar
- Study of national octopus fishery status and trends in Madagascar
- Study on status and trends of octopus fisheries in the Western Indian Ocean
- Analysis of growth rates of hatchery-reared holothurians (Holothuria scabra) in community-managed aquaculture farms
- Madagascar as a case of study for red seaweed farming implementation in the WIO
- A study of local farmer income over the course of the aquaculture programme since 2007
- Effectiveness of community-based marine aquaculture in Western Indian Ocean: what can be learned from past and present, successes and failures in order to further development
GIS & Remote Sensing studies
- Assessing the status of methods for detecting mangrove degradation through geospatial analysis
- Multi-criteria analysis for the definition of REDD+ project boundaries
- Identifying and deriving spatial surrogates for the primary drivers of mangrove deforestation
- Assessing the status of methods for modelling future deforestation scenarios
- Assessing natural regeneration within areas of deforested mangrove
- Centralising and organising the Blue Forests Project’s geospatial database
Socio-economic and integrated studies
- Analysis of the agents, drivers and underlying causes of mangrove deforestation in Madagascar’s northwest
- Value chain analysis of charcoal production in Madagascar’s NW coast
- Migration of inland peoples to coastal environments in the Mikea forest
- Development of the Barren Islands LMMA sustainable finance plan
- Climate adaptation impacts of a forest carbon project in Velondriake locally- managed marine area
- Analysis of the drivers, evolution and impacts of the demographic pressure on the Barren Isles ecosystems
Carbon & Forestry studies
- Sustainable harvest of mangroves in Madagascar
- Alternative fuel-wood plantations to prevent leakage of mangrove REDD+ activities
- Mangrove forest regeneration after harvesting and the associated changes in carbon stocks
- Changes in mangrove carbon stocks associated with natural die-off
- Comprehensive assessment of the seagrass meadows of the Velondriake LMMA and their value for blue carbon projects
Independent research projects (2013-2014) - Belize
- Describing community structure of reef fish within seagrass, mangrove and reef habitats: using ecological data to evaluate management effectiveness of Bacalar Chico National Park and Marine Reserve
- Why all the algae? An assessment of the population status and distribution of key reef herbivore, Diadema antillarum, in Bacalar Chico Marine Reserve
- The value and vulnerability of avifauna in Bacalar Chico National Park and Marine Reserve: forming recommendations to ensure planned tourism development is environmentally-sound