LMMA Lessons: Sustainable management outside of MPAs is just as important as inside

MPA News

[Editor's note: The LMMA Network supports learning, advocacy, partnership, and institutional development for community-driven marine resource management and conservation, including through the use of locally-managed marine areas or LMMAs (www.lmmanetwork.org). In this recurring feature "LMMA Lessons", the network offers insights that its practitioners have gathered over the past decade.]

In December 2012, practitioners from the Fiji Locally Managed Area Network (FLMMA) gathered to share lessons and best practices. Among the topics addressed was the importance of good governance and management outside of MPAs, not just inside those areas. In the LMMA Network, efforts to manage activities outside protected areas are combined with implementation of protected areas to promote sustainable benefits to communities and ecosystem health.

Good management of the waters surrounding MPAs should include:

  • Proper guidelines for fishing licenses or use rights to those fishing and using marine resources in the area.

  • Effective limits on fishing practices during harvesting periods (such as on catch quantity, sizes, spawning species, periods, etc.).

  • Identification and monitoring of illegal or destructive fishing practices (e.g., night diving, undersized fishing nets, harvesting using SCUBA, etc.).

  • Careful management of the harvest of herbivorous fish species - such as unicorn fish, parrotfish, and rabbitfish - that may play a role in maintaining healthy coral habitat in areas prone to high algal growth.

  • Effective communication among coastal property owners and government agencies to ensure compliance with and support for regulations, including on waste management and erosion control.

- Compiled by the LMMA Network


These are all great points, and very important for sustainable resource management-- thanks to the LMMA network for sharing.

In our case in Madagascar, however, many of these are easier said than done, with fishing areas being traditionally open-access, a very low percentage of fishers being officially registered, a mostly non-selective multi-species fishery (making selective avoidance of herbivorous fish difficult) and existing fisheries legislation going largely unenforced (massive coast line + resource-poor fisheries surveillance agency which prioritizes enforcement against IUU).

I'd be interested to hear about any best practices or specific case studies that could be applicable in our context. One measure that has proven successful in Madagascar, though stands somewhat contrary to the idea of community-based management, has been the institution of a 6-week closure on the octopus fishery in the southwest of the country. As a high-value seafood product, and one that is not preferred locally, when commercial collectors stop purchasing it, communities largely stop fishing it.  This regional closure was, however, largely the result of a successful community initiative to implement short-term closures of specific fishing grounds-- an interesting example of community efforts influencing national policy. 

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