Promoting Sustainable Fisheries- National Awareness Programme in Support of the Second Temporary Octopus Fisheries Closure in Mauritius
Promoting Sustainable Fisheries- National Awareness Programme in Support of the Second Temporary Octopus Fisheries Closure in Mauritius
This project was first implemented in 2016 by EcoMode Society with funding from GEF SGP of the UNDP in collaboration with other NGOs (Reef Conservation, Ecosud and MMCS funded by IOC) in Mauritius. The present proposal is a replication of the work that was done based on the success of the first national closure that happened last year and in order to reinforce and sustain this success. Coastal residents and fishers adopted the closure positively and based on their recommendations to increase visibility, the Mauritian Scuba Diving Association (MSDA) will be collaborating with the same NGOs - EcoMode Society, Reef Conservation and Ecosud - to implement the project over the Island of Mauritius.
Fishing is a way of life along the coastlines of the Republic of Mauritius, an Island State comprising of mainland Mauritius and a number of outer islands, the island of Rodrigues being the next largest one. However, overfishing, climate change, insufficient measures to regulate marine activities and lack of enforcement are the main causes in the decline of marine species and subsequently incomes associated with artisanal fishing in Mauritius. Octopus cyanea2 is native to Mauritius and is the most common species of octopus fished in the Indian Ocean waters. It represents the majority of the commercial production of octopus in Mauritius. Unfortunately, its population has not been spared from the above-mentioned threats. Despite the regulations governing the octopus`s fishery, a significant decline in this precious commodity has been noted in the Mauritian lagoon over the last 10 years. This trend is not only due to lack of compliance with existing laws but also due to little knowledge and information that local people have about the octopus`s life cycle. In addition, regulations that cover this type of fishing are no longer sufficient and appropriate to ensure the sustainability of our marine resources. As a result, the main octopus`s collectors have expanded their range by fishing all over the lagoons, thus leading to rapid exploitation of octopus and a drastic decrease in catch.
2 Roper, C.F.E., M.J. Sweeney and C.E. Nauen, 1984
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It is worth noting that Mauritius already has established closed seasons and respective laws for other activities such as seine fishing, sea cucumber harvesting, etc. For the national implementation of a closed season for octopus harvesting, the Ministry of Ocean Economy, Marine Resources, Fisheries, Shipping and Outer Islands embarked on a series of consultations with fishers all around Mauritius since end of March 2016 and a regulation was passed in 2016 for complete ban of Octopus fisheries from 15 August till 15 October each successive year to come. The first national ban was effected from 15 August 2016 till 15 October 2016. The first project received support from most registered fishermen and the overall population. Furthermore, through the project the local coastal inhabitants had a direct communication channel to express their opinions, through interaction with the different NGO members and discuss their point of view on sustainable fisheries management and how they are a key stakeholder in managing our lagoon’s resources. Several women actively took part in the focus group meetings and overall running of the first project in the project regions. Fisherwomen were very active in providing information and disseminating the information from the awareness campaigns. The catch monitoring data after the first closure showed that larger sized octopus and a much higher number of female octopuses were caught on the opening day; overall 650kg of octopuses were caught on 16th October 2016. The nationwide competition for the biggest octopus caught was won by a registered fisherman, Mr Cyril from Bambous Virieux on the 16th October 2016, with an octopus weighing 12 pounds. On the 19th October, another fisherman from the same zone, caught an octopus weighing 18 pounds in Vieux Grand Port, confirming the success of the campaign in this region where octopus catch has been diminishing over time.
The need to carry out the sensitization campaigns has been stressed by the fishermen and coastal inhabitants to increase visibility of the law as well as educate the nation on the importance of preserving such a resource for long term benefits. The Ministry has again reinstated its interest to collaborate with the above-mentioned NGOs to propagate the information to the public in the same designated zones/villages as previously done.
In this context, The Mauritian Scuba Diving Association (MSDA) proposes to continue to implement the national awareness campaign with support from the 3 other NGOs. The targeted villages for the project are mainly located close to the lagoon and the awareness campaign is addressed to the coastal village communities composed of fishers, traders (banyans), and the
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community at large, including women and youth. Selection of villages will be same as per the first sensitization campaigns. We noted that not all fishers are dependent on octopus. In fact, most of them carry out fishing activities outside the lagoon and collect octopus on a less frequent basis. Only a small group of fishers relying solely on octopus were identified. Also, not all fishers have a license and many are amateurs. Sometimes amateur or occasional fishers also fish for octopus. This diversity of actors justifies the continuity of holding the targeted awareness campaign. It will allow them to deepen their knowledge of the cephalopod and its lifecycle, the identification of male and female, the minimum allowed catch size, the authorized techniques and, finally, to better understand and accept the interests of the national closure. The main aim is not only for coastal communities to experience an increase in their octopus catch but also for them to be able to manage their own octopus`s fishery in a sustainable manner in the future.
This project proposes to build on the success of last year and to sustain the good results through support once more from the GEF SGP of the UNDP which experience for the past Octopus closure in Rodrigues Island. It is based on and will respond to the pillars of the GEF SGP of the UNDP programming during Operational Phase 6 (OP 6) as proposed in the “OP 6 Country Programme Strategy for the Republic of Mauritius” namely:
- “to support the creation of global environmental benefits and the safeguarding of the global environment through community and local solutions that complement and add value to national and global level action”.
- “to identify important ecosystems and use a landscape-and-seascape approach for their protection and sustainable use, implementing a multi-focal approach involving communities in buffer zones and corridors thus providing connectivity for complex landscape mosaics.”
- “to integrate GEF focal areas, break down silos, and link biodiversity conservation with sustainable development and social concerns”.
- “to play a central role in assisting civil society coalitions and governments in meeting the CBD Aichi targets for biodiversity conservation, in keeping with the GEF- 6 Biodiversity Strategy to address the most critical drivers of biodiversity loss across entire landscapes and seascapes”.
- “to promote CSO-government dialogue platforms to enhance policy dialogue projects for the integration of training and capacity building and to encourage sensitization and awareness raising projects related to environmental and energy sustainability at community level”.
 
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Project Snapshot

Grantee:
Mauritian Scuba Diving Association
Country:
Mauritius
Area Of Work:
Biodiversity
International Waters
Grant Amount:
US$ 50,000.00
Co-Financing Cash:
US$ 38,290.00
Co-Financing in-Kind:
US$ 20,000.00
Project Number:
MAR/SGP/OP6/YR3/CORE/BD/2017/01
Status:
Satisfactorily Completed

Partnership

Ministry of Ocean Economy, Marine Resources, Fisheries, Shipping and Outer Islands of Mauritius

Grantee Contact

Mr. Jean Loup d'Hotman
 

Address

209 Route Royale, Beau Bassin
Beau-Bassin ,

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