“Community Based Adaptation for Fisheries Dependent Communities of Rodrigues”
“Community Based Adaptation for Fisheries Dependent Communities of Rodrigues”
The island of Rodrigues remains relatively undeveloped and the economy is based mainly on agriculture, livestock and fisheries with over one third of the workforce employed in these sectors in 2010 (Central Statistics Office, 2011). The incidence of poverty in Rodrigues is 30.2%, which is well above the national average of 12% (Republic of Mauritius, 2010) and the fisher communities are amongst the poorest on the island (Lynch et al., 2001). Catches of octopus and reef fin-fish have declined by approximately 75% over the past 10 years resulting in reduced earnings and impacting the livelihood of fishers on Rodrigues. Global climate change related impacts (e.g. sea water temperature increases, ocean acidification, sea level rise and increased unpredictability of storms) will place further stress on the coral reef and the coastal communities that depend on reef related fisheries. The village of Baie du Nord is very dependent on fishing as a source of food and income. Surveys in 2009 showed that 61% of households in Baie du Nord included fishers; fishing constituted 53% of the employment activities and there was a low average diversity of occupations per household (0.86) (Stead et al., 2009).
This high dependency on fishing means that the community in Baie du Nord is particularly vulnerable to global climate change. During a community workshop held in Baie du Nord, participants highlighted declining catches due to overfishing, increasing seawater temperatures (coral bleaching), changes in the tides and sedimentation infilling the lagoon as current threats to their fishing activities, whilst changing seasons, a decrease in the availability of water and poor health of livestock also affect agriculture in the village. The proposed project will therefore work with the fisher community of Baie du Nord to help them to prepare for the potential consequences of climate change. A Coastal Vulnerability Assessment will first be used to aid communication and future coastal planning in the vicinity of the village. New farming activities (growing vegetables and rearing sheep) will be established in order to diversify livelihoods and reduce the community’s dependency on fishing and the problem of lack of water will be addressed through the provision of rainwater harvesting tanks. These activities are all in line with the current government’s development priorities which will ensure the long-term sustainability of the actions.
1.1 Community/Ecosystem Context
The village of Baie du Nord is situated on the north-west coast of Rodrigues (Figure 1). Approximately 300 - 350 people live in the village in 150 - 225 houses. They are engaged mainly in fishing and agriculture (planting crops and raising livestock). According to the participants at the recent project planning workshop, there are around 125 - 150 people in the village who fish either on a full or part-time basis. Surveys in 2009 confirmed the high dependency on fishing and showed that 61% of households in Baie du Nord included fishers (Stead et al., 2009). Fishing constituted 53% of the employment activities, which is higher than average for the island (35% CSO, 2011) and for the other villages along the northern coastline (Stead et al., 2009). This heavy dependency on fishing is also reflected in the low average diversity of occupations per household (0.86) (Stead et al., 2009). The fishers of Baie du Nord continue to fish due to a lack of alternative sustainable livelihood options, but also due to low levels of education (just 4.68 years) (Stead et al., 2009) which further marginalises their access to alternative employment opportunities. The majority of fishers are men and unlike in other parts of the island, there are very few women fishers. In addition to fishing, each house has its own garden for growing vegetables, beans and maize. Surveys in 2000, found that the mean monthly income in Baie du Nord was just Rs 2,743 (approximately US$89); 86% of octopus fishers had no other form of income and 57% were the sole earners in their family (Lynch et al., 2001). The houses in Baie du Nord are typical for Rodrigues and constructed with cement walls and concrete roofs. The majority of households have electricity (97%), but some still also use generators (10%), indicating a high dependency on non-renewable energy sources. Furthermore only 90% have piped domestic water and less than half of the houses have flush toilets (45%), while the rest use outhouses (55%) (Stead et al., 2009).
(b) (c)
Figure 1: (a) Map showing the location of Baie du Nord, the proposed project location on the north-west coast of Rodrigues; (b) Baie du Nord; and (c) resource use patterns in Baie du Nord.
Fishing is carried out mainly on the coral reef but also within the lagoon and shallow off-lagoon areas depending on the species being targeted. The fishers catch reef fish using hook and lines, basket traps and seine nets and also target octopus, squid and prawns. The fishers comment that the reef is degraded by coral bleaching and fishers trampling on the reef whilst searching for octopus; they also state that there are less fish in the sea now due to overfishing. Within the lagoon, high sedimentation is also thought to have caused a decline in fish and recently, cyanophytes (blue-green algae) have been observed floating on the surface of the water making a foul smell. Two Marine Reserves have been established in the vicinity of Baie du Nord: Grand Bassin and Passe Demie in order to protect the island’s natural marine resources. These areas were identified by the local fishing communities and were proclaimed by the Rodrigues Regional Assembly (RRA) in 2007. In the medium to longer term, these marine reserves will not only help to provide a refuge for the local marine biodiversity but will also provide social benefits by helping to restore fish and invertebrate stocks as demonstrated by other MPAs worldwide (e.g. McCook et al., 2010). Fishers may however experience losses in the short term, due to a reduction in and access to fishing grounds, further distances to travel to go fishing, and overcrowding of unprotected areas, which may result in negative social impacts. The Baie du Nord fisher community was the only one from the five main communities that utilise the Grand Bassin Marine Reserve to express negative opinions about the implementation of these no-take areas (Blais et al., 2011), even though 70% acknowledge that fish catches have decreased (Stead et al., 2009).
Rodrigues is situated within the Mascarene Archipelago, a recognised global biodiversity hotspot. The island is surrounded by an extensive fringing reef, which was once described as the “most substantial and best developed reef in the Mascarenes”. The lagoon and reef support endemic coral, fish and crustacean species and a diversity of soft sediment, seagrass, macroalgal and coral habitats, with a high percentage live coral cover (~50%). While Rodrigues was one of the few locations in the Indian Ocean to avoid the mass coral bleaching event caused by high seawater temperatures and unusually calm weather conditions in 1997–1998 (Turner et al., 2000a), minor bleaching events have occurred since (Hardman et al., 2004; 2007; Vaughan, 2010). These coral bleaching events were particularly severe in the north and west of the lagoon and between 30 and 75% of coral colonies died following the 2002 bleaching event at sites within the Baie du Nord community’s fishing grounds (Hardman et al., 2004). The frequency of these events is predicted to increase, with repeat events expected every 5 years by 2010-2025 (Sheppard, 2003). Coral mortality as a result of bleaching or other causes can lead to a loss in the structural complexity of these habitats and "phase shifts", where previously coral dominated areas become dominated by macroalgae. Due to its remote location, it is likely that the coral reefs and the communities that they support are largely self-seeding. The potential susceptibility of the island’s marine species to localised extinction events is therefore greater than for other better connected islands in the Western Indian Ocean.
The local community in Baie du Nord is highly dependent on a healthy coral reef and lagoon ecosystem in order to support a sustainable fishery. Intensive fishing pressure in the Rodrigues lagoon over decades has however resulted in drastic declines of both fin-fish and invertebrate landings and the degradation of lagoon habitats. Surveys indicate that annual landings of lagoon fish fell from 1,240 tonnes in 1999 to 641 tonnes in 2006 and annual octopus landings fell from 775 tonnes in 1994 to 354 tonnes in 2010. This has resulted in a decline in earnings for fishers and many are now dependent on government subsidies. Although the fishers recognised the importance of a healthy marine ecosystem for the fishery, the short-term losses due to a reduction in and access to fishing grounds and a lack of alternative livelihoods means that many of the fishers in Baie du Nord are opposed to the establishment of the Marine Reserves and continue to fish despite declining catches.
The marine ecosystem in Rodrigues is currently threatened by declining catches of fish and octopus as a result of overfishing and habitat degradation caused by coral bleaching, sedimentation and trampling damage from fishers. This has resulted in a decline in earnings for fishers and many are now dependent on government subsidies. The lack of opportunities for alternative livelihoods means that they feel that they have no choice but to continue to fish despite declining catches. On the land, drought during November, December and January causes a lack of water which affects farming, resulting in poor crop harvest and unhealthy livestock. During severe droughts, community members have to buy water in order to support their families putting further strain on diminishing financial resources. Global climate change will bring additional threats from sea level rise, higher temperatures, increased frequency of coral bleaching, ocean acidification and an increase in the frequency and intensity of storms and cyclones. These are likely to place an even greater pressure on both the terrestrial and marine environments, making it much harder to earn a living from fishing and farming. This project will address these issues by helping fisher-dependent communities on Rodrigues to realise and prepare for the potential consequences of climate change though: (a) completing a Coastal Vulnerability Assessment for Baie du Nord and the surrounding vicinity to aid coastal management planning; (b) supporting livelihood diversification through the establishment of sustainable farming activities to reduce the community’s dependency on fishing; (c) addressing the issue of water shortages through the provision of rainwater harvesting tanks; and (d) transferring lesson learnt to the local Government.
The project will therefore: provide alternative livelihood opportunities for the Baie du Nord community, reducing their dependency on fishing; reduce the impact of current water shortages, improving agricultural output and improving income; and ensure that these new activities are not vulnerable to future climate change thus providing a sustainable long-term livelihood option for the community. The local Government (the Rodrigues Regional Assembly (RRA)) includes the redeployment of fishers into other economic sectors, promotion of the agricultural sector and the improvement of the water sector in Rodrigues as priorities in its 5 Year Plan (2012-2017). The Sustainable Integrated Development Plan for Rodrigues (SIDPR) also states that there is an urgent need to redeploy fishers to more productive work and lists water resource management and strengthening of the agricultural sector as key priorities (KPMG, 2009). The activities proposed within this project are therefore in-line with the current development needs in Rodrigues and could be replicated within other coastal communities around the island. The Project Final Report will include policy recommendations for livelihood diversification and other climate change adaptation measures ready for submission to the RRA.
The project will be managed by Shoals Rodrigues working in close collaboration with the Baie du Nord Village Committee. The following project activities will be implemented:
1. Completion of a Coastal Vulnerability Assessment (CVA): A CVA and map of the Baie du Nord vicinity will be prepared by Shoals Rodrigues using existing GIS datasets (topography and high resolution satellite imagery). A participatory mapping workshop will then be organised with the local community to refine the details shown on the CVA map and to raise awareness of potential areas of concern to assist in future planning, including planning for the community farming projects described below.
2. Development of 2 community farming projects: (i) enhancement of a current community farm, to improve agricultural efficiency and output. Vegetables are currently grown on this plot of land by an association of 35 people. The sustainable provision of water is currently a key constraining factor and therefore rainwater harvesting tanks will be constructed to address this issue. Vegetables will be grown for sale in the local markets; and (ii) establishment of a community sheep rearing business for 5 fishers. Sheep are hardier and therefore better suited to the current conditions in Baie du Nord and 25 sheep will be purchased (including at least 2 males) (Figure 4). Enclosed pasture grounds will prevent livestock from running about freely, damaging natural vegetation and causing erosion and animal waste will be composted, which could then be used in the community vegetable plantations, avoiding the need for chemical fertilisers. Once the sheep have reached a sufficient size, they will be exported to Mauritius. Advice and support for these activities will be sought from the Commission for Agriculture.
3. Provision of rainwater harvesting tanks to address the issue of water shortages and reduce the dependency on piped water. Rainwater harvesting tanks will be provided for the community farming projects in addition to 25 households in Baie du Nord.
4. Policy recommendations for livelihood diversification and other climate change adaptation measures submitted to the RRA.

Shoals Rodrigues have already developed a good working relationship with the fisher community in Baie du Nord through a number of different collaborative projects over the past 12 years and have experience of supporting alternative livelihood activities, having previously worked with the Association des Pêcheurs de Rivière Banane to establish a similar project. Local community members will be engaged continuously throughout the project implementation through regular meetings and the Project Manager will liaise regularly with community members to ensure the smooth running of project activities and that the activities are adequately supporting their needs. Additional support will also be sought from the Commission for Agriculture and the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Authority (SMEDA).


Project Snapshot

The Shoals Rodrigues Association
Area Of Work:
Community Based Adaptation
Grant Amount:
US$ 28,000.00
Co-Financing Cash:
Co-Financing in-Kind:
US$ 29,283.00
Project Number:
Satisfactorily Completed
Project Characteristics and Results
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Grantee Contact

Mr Jovani Raffin
Phone: 831 1225
Email: raffijov@yahoo.com


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