Since April of this year WCS has overseen the creation of five new coastal survey commit- tees around Antongil Bay. These community based committees are the front lines of defense against destructive and unsustainable resource management techniques. In collaboration with the National Survey Fishing Center (CSP), the committees enforce state regulations of fishing gear including those against ramikaoka or the practice of beach seine netting (where materials originally dispensed by the government as mos-
quito nets are sewn together and dragged for over 100 meters off shore back to the beach catching everything in their path compromising the local food web).
Then, in August, the death in an accident of the CSP agent stationed here in Maroantsetra in charge of enforcing laws, such as those against the use of beach seine nets in the district, marked a major blow in the region‟s conservation efforts. Instead of celebrating the life of a recently departed, as is the custom in Madagascar, some members in the com- munity and surrounding areas rejoiced because he was such an avid enforcer of the laws against rami- kaoka, helping to almost entirely stomp out the practice in the Bay. In his absence true anarchy reigned as some members in the area took the opportunity to resume their destructive efforts at incredible rates
In response to these growing threats, the local survey committees in collaboration with PCDDBA (local asso- ciation) began sending urgent messages to Regional Authorities and the regional and national CSP pleading for assistance. Responding to the dire claims, two CSP agents or „marine gendarme‟ were brought in from the capital to aid in the crisis by resuming enforcement of the laws. During a seven day mission they were suc- cessful in confiscating 22 beach seine nets while bringing order back to the region. In addition to these efforts, and to meet the needs expressed by PCDDBA, a new law, unique in Madagascar, has been re- leased on November 17th 2011. This regional
decree prohibits the sale, possession and use of beach seines along 500 km of coastline including Antongil Bay. WCS is grateful for the swift actions by the CSP, Regional Authorities, PCDDBA and local survey committees. We are very confident because, in the wake of a tragedy, members of the communities in which we work were able to pull together with help from the gov- ernment and stand up for their right to sustainably manage their resources in an effort to benefit their community while ensuring the integrity of the environment now and in the future.