Notes on the status and incidental capture of marine turtles by the subsistence fishing communities of South West Madagascar
This paper investigates incidental capture and the egg harvesting of five species of turtle by eight subsistence fishing communities in south west Madagascar. Data were collected through semi-structured interviews with fishers from each community over a period of three weeks during March 2002. Turtles were captured as part of a seasonal, multi-species fishery using spear guns and shark gill nets. Capture rates varied widely during the peak fishing season of October to March with respondents from the village of Maromena reporting monthly anecdotal capture rates of approximately 300 individuals. Green turtles (Chelonia mydas) were the most commonly caught species. The reporting of continued diminishing turtle catch levels over the last 10 years by the fishers contributed to the reduction in the cultural dependence on turtles and their use in ceremonies. Known nesting populations of green turtles have been reduced by 70%, and hawksbills Eretmochelys imbricata by 50%, since 1991. Recommendations include: further research on turtle status, distribution and threats; environmental education; development of sustainable alternative livelihoods; and development of appropriate protective measures.
Keywords: Turtles, artisanal fisheries, Madagascar
West Indian Ocean Journal of Marine Science Vol. 4 (2) 2005: pp. 219-226
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