Illegal fishing, Madagascar

Chinese, Thai and South-Korean vessels, bring down illegal fishing nets fitted with deep hooks to trap high-value fish at night


Situated off the east African coast, Madagascar has some of the richest fishing stocks on the continent. Its vast waters, however, are open to illegal, usually foreign, plunder.

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Basic Data
NameIllegal fishing, Madagascar
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Biomass and Land Conflicts (Forests, Agriculture, Fisheries and Livestock Management)
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Wetlands and coastal zone management
Aquaculture and fisheries
Specific CommoditiesFish
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsFishing statistics in Madagascar are poorly recorded but in 2008, an estimated 130, 000 tons of fish were caught in Madagascar.

Illegal fishing from foreign trawlers (Massive Chinese, Thai and South-Korean vessels) is threatening the livelihood of an estimated 100,000 people in 1250 coastal fishing communities across the country, but most severely in coastal cities like Toamasina and Nosy Be.

Local fishermen estimate that 2 foreign vessels can catch, process and freeze the same amount of fish that 30 open dhow boats can produce in one year. They are operating from gigantic mother ships fitted with instant freezing technology.

According to the Madagascar Fisheries and Wildlife Commission, a government body that regulates fishing permits, by 2001 the shark fish population around Toamasina was decreasing by a rate of 6% per year. Fast forward to the period between 2005 and 2014, and that rate had jumped to 23%.
Type of PopulationSemi-urban
Potential Affected Population100,000
Start Date01/01/2010
Relevant government actorsMinistry of Fisheries

Madagascar Fisheries and Wildlife Commission

Malagasy Fisheries and Aquaculture Agency

Fisheries Monitoring Centre

Fishing Resources Sanitary Agency
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersWorld Wildlife Fund (WWF)

Blue Venture Conservation

Madagascar Fauna and Flora Group (MFG), a consortium of international zoos, aquariums, botanical gardens and universities working with the Malagasy government to protect the country’s biodiversity
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)LOW (some local organising)
When did the mobilization beginUNKNOWN
Groups MobilizingLocal ejos
Trade unions
Local scientists/professionals
Fisher people
Forms of MobilizationInvolvement of national and international NGOs
Media based activism/alternative media
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Global warming
OtherMadagascar may have some of the world’s most precious marine species and 90 per cent of its wildlife cannot be found anywhere else on earth – but this is now at risk.
Health ImpactsPotential: Malnutrition
OtherAccording to Madagascar Fauna and Flora Group (MFG), some Chinese ships are using DDT, a dangerous pesticide banned by the UN Stockholm Convention, in order to kill large quantities of fish at once. But DDT also kills periphery sea life, and inhuman beings DDT has been linked to the development of some cancers and reproductive health complications.
Socio-economic ImpactsPotential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures
OtherMarine tourism, which has created 10,000 direct jobs in towns like Toamasina and Morondava, is under serious strain.

Illegal fishing from foreign trawlers is threatening the livelihood of an estimated 100,000 people in 1250 coastal fishing communities across the country, but most severely in coastal cities.

The Antananarivo Boat Fishers Agency, an affiliate of the national Confederation of Malagasy Workers, says that in 2004 there were 406 boat fishers under its membership. In 2015, only 159 remain in employment.
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCorruption
Some police officers and public prosecutors are bribed by rich foreign ship owners to turn a blind eye to the plunder
Local workers who sound the alarm and challenge the trawler face intimidation and even violence
Development of AlternativesProg Messa is leading a group of 100 fishermen in a court case to try and force the government to ban Chinese trawlers from fishing within 30 kilometres of the country’s shores.
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.According to the Madagascar Fauna and Flora Group (MFG), the Chinese don’t respect Madagascar’s marine life at all.

For WWF-Madagascar, if this continues, the social and environmental results could be “very negative”. If they carry on as they are, they will push the ecosystem to the brink of collapse. The disappearance of sharks, for example, would devastate local marine habitats. A collapse in the shark fishing industry threatens economic stability and means a loss of direct livelihoods for thousands of fishermen in Madagascar.

Also, they are killing small-scale fisheries which make key contributions to food security, sustainable livelihoods and poverty reduction in Madagascar.
Sources and Materials

Environment: Foreign fleets threaten Madagascar fisheries
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The total economic value of small-scale fisheries with a characterization of post-landing trends: An application in Madagascar with global relevance
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Madagascar fisheries ravaged by foreign plunder
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The Stop Illegal Fishing Interview with the Honourable Minister Ratolojanahary
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Media Links

How Illegal Fishing Is Depleting Madagascar's Tuna by Journeyman Pictures
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Other Documents

Taiwan vessel suspected of illegal fishing targeted by Greenpeace action Source:
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Meta Information
Last update20/04/2015