Fishers In Madagascar Adapt To Deadly Seas Due To Climate Change

Published: Mon 15 Apr 2024 05:22 AM
Fishing communities in the south of Madagascar are facing sometimes deadly sea conditions due to climate change, but with the help of the UN’s International Labour Organization (ILO) are finding ways to adapt to the new circumstances they face.
The large Indian Ocean island is amongst the poorest in Africa where the majority of people make their living off the land or sea.
Like many other countries in the region, it is suffering the effects of climate change.
UN News’s Daniel Dickinson travelled to the village of Mokala in Anosy region where he spoke to the president of the local association of fishers, Gaston Imbola and Valencia Assanaly, the National Coordinator of the ILO’s Project Eco-Langouste Sud.
Gaston Imbola: It is becoming more dangerous to fish in these waters because the winds are getting stronger and the weather is less predictable. People have died because their traditional wooden canoes have capsized out in the ocean. Just one week ago three fishers from a different village were rescued off our shores after getting into difficulty. Two were extremely weak.
Valencia Assanaly: Climate change is impacting fishing a lot in this region. An increase in the temperature of the sea and a decrease in rainfall causes higher winds which translates into big waves and more treacherous conditions at sea for the fishers.
Gaston Imbola: We used to be able to fish around 20 days a month, but with stronger more challenging winds it is now between 11 and 15. I’m not very sacred of the conditions but sometimes I do take risks because I need to feed my family.
Valencia Assanaly: At the ILO we recognize that fishers like Gaston need support, so we are helping them to both diversify their income sources, but also to fish more safely, which includes collaborating on digital early warning systems which highlight dangerous sea conditions.
Gaston Imbola: In the past, our tradition was to listen to the wind and observe the sea the night before we set out on a fishing trip. But now we can get detailed information about the wind direction and the size of the waves by calling an information service dedicated to fishing folk. This helps us to make a decision about whether it is safe to fish or not. So, this morning, we will fish as there is an amber alert which urges caution, but this afternoon the conditions will worsen and there is a red alert which means it is too dangerous to go out.
Valencia Assanaly: The ILO has supported the digitalization of the early warning system so fishers can receive information via text messages. We are also providing expertise on the diversification of income resources including the strengthening of practices for fisheries sectors, other than lobster, which is currently the community’s main source of income. While, one of our main goals is to build the capacity, profitability and sustainability of lobster fishing, we recognize that diversification is important as it enables the fishers to be more resilient to the types of negative changes in the climate that we are seeing.
Gaston Imbola: The lobster season runs from April to December which coincides with some of the worst weather at sea. There are 98 fishing families in this village which has a population of around 800 and together, during the last season we caught 10 tonnes in nine months. Lobster fetches a good price so this is a big benefit to the village.
Valencia Assanaly: The ILO is also supporting the fishers to organize so they have a decent working environment, that they know their rights and to ensure, as stakeholders, that they are part of the value chain for lobster.
Gaston Imbola: The biggest market for our lobster is Japan, where we send lobsters which are still alive. Customers in Europe take the prepared meat. I don’t know much about Japan, but I am proud that the Japanese people buy and enjoy our product and that my small village and my country is recognized on the other side of the world as producing excellent lobster.
The UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) has also supported the Mokala village fishing community providing seaworthy canoes, life vests, safety-at-sea training as well as nets and torches.

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