By Toky Rasolomanana
| March 31, 2015
With a marine zone of over 1 million square kilo-meters – an area nearly double the national land surface - Madagascar supports greater total ma-rine biodiversity than any other western Indian Ocean country. In line with the Aichi targets es-tablished under the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, the Government of Madagascar has committed to tripling the number of marine parks and has enlisted WCS as a leading technical part-ner in this effort. Together with the government and local communities, WCS has so far estab-lished eight marine parks, protecting over half a million hectares (2,346 square miles) of coastal and ocean habitats identified as conservation pri-orities. In the most recently established marine parks, local communities are empowered to be-
Photo crédit : Jürg Brand
come formal partners with the Government in marine protected area management. “With this model, we have evidence that protected areas benefit not only biodiversity but also local com-munities, by ensuring their food security, bring-ing much needed additional revenues to local fishermen as well as by empowering them,” said his Excellency Hery Rajaonarimampianina, Presi-dent of Madagascar, at the 2014 IUCN World Parks Congress in Sydney. Three of these co-managed marine parks, Soariake marine park in the southwest and Ankarea and Ankivonjy marine parks in the northwest were granted temporary protection status by the government in 2010. These marine parks protect some of the most di-verse coral populations of the planet, important nesting site for marine turtles and critical habi-tats for diverse, abundant and endangered ceta-cean populations (including humpbacks, blue whales, sperm whales, and beaked whales). WCS has recently completed all mandatory steps (e.g. adoption of management plans and decrees by a government commission, deliverance of environ-mental permit etc.) and is currently submitting the completed dossiers for the three marine parks for government approval and subsequent inclusion in the national protected area register as fully gazetted marine parks. In each of these 3 marine parks WCS also invests in building local management capacities, ensuring wider participa-tion of local people in resource management, set-ting up relevant law enforcement systems, im-proving local fishery management, monitoring ecological and socioeconomic impacts, and diver-sifying fisher’s livelihoods.