For the Island state of Madagascar fishing for shrimp is vital to the economy and way of life. Between 2008 and 2012, the exportation of shrimp represented approximately 7% of the total exports from Madagascar, and products containing Madagascan shrimp could be found on dinner plates across the world. Over the last decade, major declines in the output of the shrimp fishery have been observed. Nearly half of all the trawlers that used to fish the waters have disappeared, and no artisanal vessels remain in Malagasy waters. The resulting 30% decline in the amount of Shrimp being landed has had significant implications on Madagascan society, both for the wider economy and for individual families who rely on shrimp fishing for their livelihood. In addition to a reduction in output from the fishery, the state of the actual shrimp stock itself remains poorly understood. Although shrimp are a fast-growing, resilient species that is hard to overfish – results from stock assessments in 2013 raised concerns that recruitment overfishing (fishing too many young shrimp) might be occurring. The destruction of mangroves (important habitats for shrimp), the effects of climate change, and a lack of monitoring and compliance exacerbate the issue and been have identified as areas of concerns that need to be addressed.
The establishment of a Fishery Improvement Project (FIP) for the Madagascan shrimp fishery aims to address these concerns and improve the sustainability of the fishery’s industrial component to meet the standards required for it to be certified as sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC). In 2015 participants in the FIP, which included Madagascar’s fishing Minister, identified that the action plan of the FIP must:
- Evaluate the current size of the shrimp stock and identify ways to keep track of any changes
- Improve the data collection from the fishery in order that decision making is informed by science.This includes revising the small scale shrimp fishery monitoring system, the data collected on board vessels (biological observation on shrimp catch, bycatch and discards) and improving mapping of local fishing activity
- Develop a co-management system to allow the appropriate management measures to be taken with the information available and
- Develop a strategy for managing the traditional small-scale fisheries sector.
The participants in the North West Madagascar Shrimp FIP will provide technical, financial and other support to work towards achieving recovery of the stock of the fishery and ensure that shrimp fishing as a whole is economically and environmentally sustainable in Madagascar.
Participants include: the Ministry of Marine Resources and Fisheries, Economic Observatory of Fisheries and Aquaculture, Fisheries Monitoring Centre, Centre for Studies and Development of Fisheries, The Malagasy Agency for Fisheries and Aquaculture, Authorité Sanitaire Halieutique, Institut Halieutique et des Sciences Marines, Centre National de Recherches Océanographiques, Ministry of Environment, Ecology, Sea and Forestry, GAPCM and its members – Fishing Division, LMMA Network, Blue Ventures, WCS , local fishermen and WWF.