“Alternative Livelihoods and Support for Sustainable Marine Resource Management in Rodrigues”
“Alternative Livelihoods and Support for Sustainable Marine Resource Management in Rodrigues”
Rodrigues is an autonomous island within the Republic of Mauritius, situated within the Mascarene Archipelago, a recognised global biodiversity hotspot. Intensive fishing pressure in the lagoon over decades has resulted in drastic declines of both fin-fish and invertebrate landings and the degradation of lagoon habitats. This has resulted in a decline in earnings for fishers, who are one of the poorest communities on the island. As a result, many fishers are dependent on government subsidies and their standard of living is below the national average. In recognition of the need to improve the status of the island’s marine resources, four Marine Reserves were identified by the local fishing community in the north of Rodrigues and legally gazetted by the Rodrigues Regional Assembly (RRA) in 2007. Between 2010 and 2012, a joint Management Plan was developed for the four Marine Reserves by a group of local stakeholders with the support of GEF SGP and ReCoMap. More recently, the RRA implemented its first island-wide seasonal closure of the octopus fishery, between August and October 2012, in an attempt to rehabilitate stocks. The closure reduced fishing pressure and resulted in increased catches and landing of larger individuals once the fishery was re-opened. Further closures are now planned in 2013.
The primary objective of the proposed project is to support the improved management of the marine resources of Rodrigues through providing support for the second octopus fishery closure and implementation of priority actions detailed in the Marine Reserves Management Plan. The primary objective will be achieved through the following specific objectives: (1) develop and support alternative livelihoods to provide income to those fishers affected by the octopus closure and Marine Reserves; (2) train local community representatives to enable them to actively participate in the co-management of marine resources; (3) demarcate the Marine Reserves; (4) implement community based monitoring control and surveillance measures; and (5) develop and expand education and awareness-raising programmes within the local communities to support successful implementation of these initiatives.
Alternative livelihoods for fishers will be developed through the establishment of a community forest and 5 community pasturages and 30 fishers will be trained in the required techniques, enabling them to sustain the activities in the long-term. Four Local Advisory Committees (LACs) will be established, comprising of representatives from the local communities, villages and businesses adjacent to each of the Marine Reserves and members will be provided with training to support their involvement in marine resource management. A more resilient system of demarcation buoys will be developed and installed around the Marine Reserves in order to support effective surveillance. Existing participatory monitoring programmes will be expanded to assess the effectiveness of the Marine Reserves and the temporary octopus fishery closures. The project will support the continuation of the participatory octopus fishery monitoring programme and the 14 Community Resource Observers (CROs) currently employed to collect these data island-wide (6 in the north and the 8 south). A further 6 CROs will be recruited from the local communities in the north and trained in monitoring, control and surveillance techniques. Options to secure the sustainable financing of the Marine Protected Area (MPA) Network will also be identified. Finally, current education materials for primary schools, young people and the fisher community will be revised and updated in order to better reflect current knowledge and new education programmes will be developed for tourists and tour operators.
This project accords with the GEF focal area criteria, GEF-5 Strategic Objectives for Biodiversity and the GEF SGP Country Programme Strategy for Mauritius addressing SGP OP5 Immediate Objectives 1, 2, 5 and 10. The project also supports the national and local Government aims of strengthening management of protected areas and reducing fishing pressure in the lagoon.
1.2 Organisational Background and Capacity to Implement the Project
1.2.1 Shoals Rodrigues Association
Shoals Rodrigues is a non-governmental organisation established in September 2001 (registration number 6717), in order to undertake marine research, education and training activities in Rodrigues. The objectives of the organisation are to: (1) Conduct research to evaluate and monitor the local marine ecosystems, fisheries and oceanographic processes; (2) Provide training in practical techniques to ensure local people have the capacity to safely study and monitor their shore, lagoon and reef habitats and populations; (3) Educate and promote environmental awareness amongst all sectors of the community, to increase understanding of the need for sustainable use of marine resources and; (4) Educate teachers and other trainers to ensure the long-term local sustainability of the aims of the organisation. The Association currently has 5 full-time members of local staff and 2 international scientific advisors. Shoals Rodrigues has over ten years of experience of managing projects to address the problems of biodiversity loss and the development of sustainable management for marine resources, working in collaboration with local stakeholders, in particular the fisher community. The Association has implemented over 20 different projects conducting long-term monitoring programmes of marine habitats and resources, undertaking scientific research, developing various environmental education programmes and resources, providing training to local stakeholders and supporting the development of Marine Reserves.
The Marine Reserves were identified and selected by local fishers through extensive community consultations supported by a GEF SGP grant in 2002 (‘Sustainable Reef Fisheries Development in the Rodrigues Lagoon’). Support for the implementation of these reserves was then obtained from the Darwin Initiative, the North of England Zoological Society, Fonds Français pour l’Environnement Mondial (through the Indian Ocean Commission) and the Decentralised Cooperation Programme. In 2010, further support was obtained from the GEF SGP (together with ReCoMaP) to provide capacity-building to local stakeholders enabling them to write their own Management Plan for the Marine Reserves (‘Improving Management Effectiveness for the Marine Protected Areas of Rodrigues’). Shoals Rodrigues was also a partner on two GEF SGP funded projects working with local fisher associations (Ocean Tribe and Association des Pêcheurs de Rivière Banane) to develop alternative livelihoods in order to improve fisher incomes and reduce fishing pressure on the lagoon resources. In addition, Shoals Rodrigues has established successful education programmes for primary school children, young people, fishers and teachers and has produced a range of education resources. A further grant from the GEF SGP in 2004 (‘Marine Environmental Education in the Community’) enabled Environmental Corners to be established in every primary school on the island and also supported discovery sessions for primary school children and environmental education workshops for primary school teachers.
1.2.2 Mauritian Wildlife Foundation
The Mauritian Wildlife Foundation (MWF) is a Registered Charity (No. 2134) established in 1984, and is Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) registered (No. 1070). MWF is the only national NGO to be exclusively concerned with the conservation of terrestrial endemic species and their habitats, and in Rodrigues has a specialisation in ecosystems restoration. The principle objective is to save threatened native and endemic species from extinction. MWF’s projects are overseen by a council consisting of 15 members and supervised by the Executive Director and Scientific Director, who are supported by the Conservation Director, Fauna Manager, Rodrigues Administrator, and Finance Manager. MWF has nearly 30 years of experience in habitat restoration in various sites in Mauritius (Round Island, Ile aux Aigrettes and Mondrain) and Rodrigues (Grande Montagne Nature Reserve, Anse Quitor Nature Reserve, Ile Cocos and Ile aux Sables). In Rodrigues, MWF has a plant restoration nursery at Solitude where rare plants are propagated; annually over 50,000 seedlings are propagated in this nursery. MWF is extensively implicated with the community through its Rodrigues Environmental Education Programme (REEP), which works with both the schools and villages conducting educational talks and tours, and organising Conservation Work Days for the community volunteers. MWF has worked in several villages creating community nurseries and creating plots for sustainable artisanal plants. Over the years, 4 of their projects in Rodrigues received support from the GEF Small Grants Programme, amongst which was the first community-lead conservation approach that was piloted successfully by the “Sustainable Use of Rodriguan Endemic Plants Project”, enabling the MWF to share its technical conservation capacity with community-based groups.

1.2.3 Rodrigues Regional Assembly
Rodrigues is an autonomous island within the Republic of Mauritius and is administered by the Rodrigues Regional Assembly (RRA) which was set up by the Rodrigues Regional Assembly Act 2001. The RRA is body corporate, composed of democratically elected members, acting on behalf of the Government of Mauritius but enjoys a large degree of autonomy having the power to exercise full responsibility in many areas. Only a few areas of responsibility are shared with the central government, namely: education, social security, judicial, civil aviation, meteorology, postal services, health, and customs. Economic development and environmental management form part of the RRA’s core responsibilities. The South East Marine Protected Area (SEMPA), a multiple-use MPA falling under the responsibility of the Fisheries Commission of the RRA, was established under the project “Partnerships for Marine Protected Areas in Mauritius and Rodrigues” co-funded by UNDP/ GEF/ RRA. The project started in 2005 based on a co-management principle involving the community in implementation of activities and ended in December 2011. SEMPA developed a consultative co-management process with the various stakeholders and fisher communities through community-based committees (the Community Resource Committees at a village level and the Community Advisory Council which regroups representatives of the village-level committees so as to participate in the co-management process). Selected members of the SEMPA fisher community were trained to become Community Resource Observers (CROs) and thereafter involved in the Participatory Resource Monitoring Programme (PRMP). These CROs have continued to be employed in the island-wide octopus monitoring.
Other partners in the project will be the Commission for Agriculture and Forestry Services. The Commission for Agriculture’s aim is to promote a modernised and sustainable agri-business as one of the main pillars of the Rodrigues economy. The Commission for Agriculture has several departments and missions. The activities associated with the establishment of community pasturages will be implemented by the Agricultural Services, which constitutes the main technical division of the Commission. It is responsible for the execution of agricultural projects and programmes and for providing services to facilitate the development of the sector according to the policies of the RRA. Agriculture in Rodrigues is currently experiencing a transitional change from the traditional subsistence mode to commercial and semi-intensive system. The improvement of animal farming through the creation of fenced community pastures and the adoption of a cut and carry system of production as described in this project is therefore in line with the current policy to revitalise agriculture and to promote sustainable development. The Forestry Services of Rodrigues falls under the aegis of the Commission for Environment, Fisheries, Marine Parks, Forestry and Tourism and is headed by an Officer in Charge of Forests assisted by a Forest Ranger and a Deputy Forest Ranger. The island’s forest biodiversity has been badly threatened by past inhabitants through misuse of the forest resources and the priority for the Forestry Services is therefore to cater for the restoration of forest biodiversity in both fauna and flora for the benefit of the present and future inhabitants of the island. To date, approximately 60 hectares of forest has been restored and over the next 10 years an annual restoration of 100 hectares is planned, representing 30% of the total forest cover. Two forest nurseries with a production capacity of 100,000 tree seedlings are now operational for the restoration works. The Forestry Services will also be implementing a management plan for the community in order to initiate them in participatory forest management for the sustainable use of forest resources for income generation through small forest-based businesses.
1.3 Project Objectives and Expected Results
1.3.1 Problem Statement
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). Intensive fishing pressure in the Rodrigues lagoon over decades has 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, who are one of the poorest communities on the island. In 2010, there were 1,407 registered fishers (8.5% of the total workforce) with an estimated additional 2,000 people fishing on a casual basis. A survey in 2000, found that 91% of octopus fishers earn less than US$70 per month from fishing with an average monthly earning of just US$28 per month (Lynch et al., 2001). As a result, many fishers are dependent on government subsidies and their standard of living is below the national average.
In recognition of the need to improve the status of the island’s marine resources, four Marine Reserves were identified by the local fishing community in the north of Rodrigues and legally gazetted by the Rodrigues Regional Assembly (RRA) in 2007. In combination with the previously established Fisheries Reserves and the larger multiple-use South East Marine Protected Area (SEMPA) in the south, the MPA network of Rodrigues now covers close to 80km2 of the reef and lagoon, and will (once fully implemented) provide a refuge for marine biodiversity and help to restore fish and invertebrate stocks. Between 2010 and 2012, a joint Management Plan was developed for the four northern Marine Reserves by a group of local stakeholders with the support of GEF SGP and ReCoMap. This is one of first management plans in the region to have been written by local marine resource users. The final draft Management Plan will be presented to the RRA in April 2013. More recently, the RRA implemented its first island-wide temporary closure of the octopus fishery between August and October 2012 in an attempt to rehabilitate stocks. During the closure, support from SmartFish enabled fishers to receive practical training and participate in positive environmental activities in order to reduce the socio-economic impacts of the closure. The closure successfully reduced fishing pressure and resulted in increased catches and landing of larger individuals once the fishery was re-opened. Further closures are now planned in 2013.
Considerable progress has therefore been made in Rodrigues in recent years in terms of protection of the island’s marine biodiversity. Although these projects have been very successful and community support for them is high, there is a need to maintain this momentum. This project therefore aims to build upon these previous achievements through providing capacity-building and support in order to ensure the long-term sustainability of these marine resource management initiatives.
1.3.2 Project Objectives
The primary objective of the proposed project is to support the improved management of the marine resources of Rodrigues through providing support for the second octopus fishery closure and implementation of priority actions detailed in the Marine Reserves Management Plan. The primary objective will be achieved through the following specific objectives: (1) develop and support alternative livelihoods to provide income to those fishers affected by the octopus closure and Marine Reserves; (2) train local community representatives to enable them to actively participate in the co-management of marine resources; (3) demarcate the Marine Reserves; (4) implement community based monitoring control and surveillance measures; and (5) develop and expand education and awareness-raising programmes within the local communities to support successful implementation of these initiatives.
1.3.3 Rationale
The proposed project is designed to address priority objectives within GEF Operational Programme 5 (OP5) Biodiversity (BD), Climate Change (CC) and International Waters (IW) Focal Areas. More specifically the proposed project accords with SGP Country Programme Strategy for Mauritius addressing will address the following SGP OP5 Immediate Objectives and Outcomes (and their associated Indicators):
• SGP OP5 Immediate Objective 1: Improve sustainability of protected areas and indigenous and community conservation areas through community-based actions. Improving the management effectiveness of the Marine Reserves will contribute towards SGP BD Outcome 1.1, 1.2, 1.3 and 1.4.
• SGP OP5 Immediate Objective 2: Mainstream biodiversity conservation and sustainable use into production landscapes, seascapes and sectors through community initiatives and actions. Community forests and pasturages, as well as capacity building activities, will help to share the benefits and contribute towards SGP BD Outcome 2.1 and 2.2. The species of plants propagated and grown in the forest will be those used by artisans and will thereby support the sustainability of the artisanal sector.
• SGP OP5 Immediate Objective 5: Support the conservation and enhancement of carbon stocks through sustainable management and climate proofing of land use, land use change and forestry: The establishment of a community forest will contribute toward SGP CC Outcome 5.1 and 5.2.
• SGP OP5 Immediate Objective 10: Enhance and strengthen capacities of CSOs to engage in consultative processes, apply knowledge management to ensure adequate information flows, implement convention guidelines, and monitor and evaluate environmental impacts and trends. The partnering of two CSOs (Shoals Rodrigues and MWF) on this project will increase the flow of information between CBOs and CSOs, and strengthen the outreach processes and dissemination of knowledge, thereby contributing towards SGP BD Outcome 10.2 and 10.3.
• Cross-cutting results: The proposed project will contribute towards poverty alleviation and all activities will be designed to be gender sensitive and equally inclusive of both men and women.

The Government of Mauritius has recognised the unsustainable nature of the fisheries and the need to strengthen conservation programmes. The second National Environmental Action Plan (NEAP), for the period 2000 to 2010 identified the deterioration of marine systems and the degradation of the coastal zone as major national environmental problems, and advocated mitigation measures that included: the reduction of fishing activities, the establishment of protected areas, and the expansion of coastal zone monitoring activities. The National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP) (2006-2015) aims to strengthen the protected area network with stakeholders effectively involved in beneficial management regimes. Some of the priority actions in the NBSAP include identifying means of reducing fishing pressure in the lagoon and investigating means of developing community stewardship of the lagoon resources. The National Synthesis Report for Rio +20 also includes a target action to strengthen management of marine protected areas. Within Rodrigues, the current government’s 5 Year Programme (2012-2017), includes as principal actions, the redeployment of fishers into other economic sectors and consolidation of the MPAs with particular attention being given to the management of the Marine Reserves and the South East Marine Protected Area (SEMPA). The Sustainable Integrated Development Plan for Rodrigues (SIDPR) also states that conservation and preservation of the marine environment should be keywords and that there is an urgent need to redeploy fishers to more productive work whilst relieving the pressure on the lagoon (KPMG, 2009). Furthermore, in the 10 year National Economic Social and Transformation Plan (ESTP), an outcome has been devised for the marine environment which is “Restored and protected lagoon ecosystem”. This also fully illustrates the Regional Government’s willingness to look into new alternatives for fishers so that they can develop another income generating activity. This project is therefore clearly in line with national and local Government objectives aiming to support the Marine Reserves and octopus fishery closure in Rodrigues through capacity building and training to enable stakeholders to play an active role in marine resource management and through the development of alternative livelihoods to reduce fishing pressure in the lagoon.

1.3.4 Project Outcomes
The Project Outcomes will be as follows: (1) land-based alternative livelihoods developed and supported to improve livelihoods of 30 fishers; (2) 16 local community representatives trained and a mechanism established to enable active participation in the management of marine resources; (3) the 4 northern Marine Reserves demarcated; (4) community based monitoring, control and surveillance measures implemented; and (5) education and awareness-raising programmes for primary schools, fisher communities, teenagers, tour operators and tourists developed and expanded.
 

Project Snapshot

Grantee:
The Shoals Rodrigues Association
Country:
Mauritius
Area Of Work:
Biodiversity
CapDev
Climate Change Mitigation
Grant Amount:
US$ 150,000.00
Co-Financing Cash:
US$ 177,307.00
Co-Financing in-Kind:
US$ 31,775.00
Project Number:
MAR/SGP/OP5/Yr2/CORE/BD/13/07
Status:
Satisfactorily Completed
Project Characteristics and Results
Notable Community Participation
The development of the Marine Reserves in Rodrigues has had strong community involvement from the outset. The Marine Reserves were originally identified by the fisher communities and they have been kept up-to-date with the progress of reserve development through regular community consultations. The Management Plan for the Marine Reserves has been written by a group of local stakeholders with considerable community consultation. The seasonal octopus closure has also involved the local fisher community through the development of practical training and positive environmental activities to reduce the socio-economic impacts of the closure. This project will continue to build on this momentum. Training provided through the project will build capacity allowing fishers and other members of the local community to participate in and contribute towards marine resource management. The alternative land-based livelihood activities will reduce the reliance of fishers on declining marine resources, contribute towards the rehabilitation of stocks and enhance their standard of living as well as reducing illegal fishing in the lagoon. The involvement of fishers in long-term monitoring will raise awareness of the status of marine resources in Rodrigues and improve stewardship of these resources by local people. The revision of current education resources and the implementation of awareness-raising activities with local communities will improve understanding of the importance of protecting marine resources and will support the successful implementation of the project activities. Shoals Rodrigues has established a good relationship with the local fisher communities over the past 11 years and has worked with them on a number of collaborative projects as well as providing education, training and support. The participatory approach used to develop the Marine Reserves Management Plan developed a strong sense of ownership amongst the local community. The local communities are now very keen to ensure that the priority management actions are implemented and therefore their support for this project is likely to be high. MWF also works extensively with the local community through its education programme and has worked in several villages creating community nurseries and creating plots for sustainable artisanal plants. One of the major issues concerning the development of the Marine Reserves and temporary closure of the octopus fishery raised during community consultation sessions has been related to the loss of livelihood for fishers. The development of land-based alternative livelihood activities will increase support amongst the fisher community for the Marine Reserves and octopus closure, improving compliance and therefore effectiveness of the initiatives.
Gender Focus
The fisher community in Rodrigues includes both men and women. Twenty five percent of registered fishers are women, and octopus fishers tend to be predominantly women. Previous initiatives to reduce fishing pressure within the lagoon have concentrated on the development of the off-lagoon fishing industry, an activity which is restricted to male fishers. During this project, the alternative livelihood activities will be made available to both men and women on an equal basis. The development of community pasturages, community forests and involvement of fishers in the monitoring of fisheries landings are activities that would be attractive to both men and women (over one third of the fishers currently employed as Community Resources Observers to monitor octopus landings are women). The Marine Reserves Management Plan clearly states that the Local Advisory Committees should include women from the local communities, ensuring that both men and women are equally involved in the management of their marine resources.
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Indicators
Biophysical
Number of globally significant species protected by project 31
Biophysical
Hectares of globally significant biodiversity area protected or sustainably managed by project 2600
Empowerment
Number of women participated / involved in SGP project 14
Livehood
Number of individuals (gender diaggregated) who have benefited* from SGP project 30

Partnership

Rodrigues Regional Assembly/Mauritius Wildlife Foundation etc..

Grantee Contact

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

Address

Marine Research, Training and Education Centre
Pointe Monier , Rodrigues ,

SGP Country office contact

Mrs. Pamela Bapoo-Dundoo
Phone:
(230) 213 53 84
Fax:
(230) 212 14 11
Email:

Address

2nd Floor, Sugar Industry Pension Fund Building, 1 Remy Ollier Street
Port Louis, Mauritius

Country Website