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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
Name of conflict:Illegal 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 commodities:Fish
Project Details and Actors
Project details

Fishing statistics in Madagascar are poorly recorded but in 2008, an estimated 130, 000 tons of fish were caught in Madagascar.

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Type of populationSemi-urban
Affected Population:100,000
Start of the conflict:01/01/2010
Relevant government actors:Ministry of Fisheries
Madagascar Fisheries and Wildlife Commission
Malagasy Fisheries and Aquaculture Agency
Fisheries Monitoring Centre
Fishing Resources Sanitary Agency
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:World 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
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityLOW (some local organising)
Reaction stageUnknown
Groups mobilizing:Local ejos
Trade unions
Local scientists/professionals
Fisher people
Forms of mobilization:Involvement of national and international NGOs
Media based activism/alternative media
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Global warming
Other Environmental impactsMadagascar 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
Other Health impactsAccording 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-economical 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
Other socio-economic impactsMarine 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
Conflict outcome / response:Corruption
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
Proposal and development of alternatives:Prog 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 an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain: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 & Materials
References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

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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Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

How Illegal Fishing Is Depleting Madagascar's Tuna by Journeyman Pictures
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Meta information
Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:1922
Legal notice / Aviso legal
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