Madagascar’s nascent locally managed marine area network
Since 2004, the creation of locally managed marine areas (LMMAs) in Madagascar has exponentially increased, highlighting the need for improved information sharing between communities and between support organizations. Until recently, however, these LMMAs operated in relative isolation, with little communication or coordination between LMMA community associations. Madagascar’s first national LMMA forum was held to address this need in June 2012 in the village of Andavadoaka, on Madagascar’s southwest coast. The forum brought together 55 community members from 18 LMMAs throughout Madagascar, representing a total of 134 villages. A principle outcome of this meeting was the formation of a national LMMA network named MIHARI, a Malagasy acronym that translates into ‘local marine resource management’. The nascent MIHARI network is an informal network that was inspired by the success of the LMMA Network in the Indo - Pacific region. MIHARI aims to facilitate peer - to - peer learning amongst coastal communities, improve communication, raise the profile and expand the use of the LMMA approach and serve as a unified lobbying platform for the interests of Madagascar’s traditional fishers. The creation of MIHARI represents a significant development towards uniting community - led approaches to conservation in Madagascar and highlights the significant role LMMAs can play in marine conservation on a national scale. This is of particular significance in Madagascar, a country with little capacity or financial resources to oversee large - scale marine conservation efforts, a problem compounded by both the vast coastline and geographical isolation of many fishing communities. Madagascar’s new LMMA network is leading the way for coastal community conservation in the western Indian Ocean and aims to serve as the basis for a wider regional LMMA network.