- Issue: Fall 2019
Fish are an essential strand in the ocean’s web of life; they also provide food and income for thousands of coastal communities. Overfishing jeopardizes those benefits and strains ecosystems that are also suffering the effects of climate change and ocean acidification. WWF works on community-based solutions to both improve fishing practices and develop alternative livelihoods, creating jobs while achieving better harmony with nature.
1. Southern Madagascar
In Madagascar’s Vezo community, WWF helped a fishing village relieve the strain on coral reefs and fish populations by transitioning to seaweed farming. The community-led effort increased the number of farming households by nearly 60% in just one year and produced an average of US$31 per month per farmer. It also allowed women to control their own finances and invest in new equipment, savings, and their children’s education. Today, eight in 10 seaweed farmers are women, and this alternative livelihood has significantly reduced pressures on coral reefs.
2. Northwestern Madagascar
To fight overfishing, illegal fishing, and degradation of key habitats such as mangroves in northwestern Madagascar, WWF helped create the Federation of Fishermen Unions of the Ambaro, Ampasindava, Nosy Be, and Tsimipaika bays. The federation brought together 20,000 fishers from 13 unions who are now helping to implement a management plan that includes protections for their livelihoods and the fragile ecosystems they depend on.
3. Taza National Park, Algeria
In 2009, Algeria’s coastal Taza National Park started the process of expanding its borders in order to protect threatened marine species and habitats. Because closing fishing grounds to establish a marine protected area would reduce the income available from fishing, WWF helped local communities create a plan that would balance conservation goals and socioeconomic needs. Recreational diving has emerged as a local industry, fueled by dozens of new dive shops and tour companies, and pescatourism—sustainable fishing-related excursions for tourists—has developed in and around the park.
4. Miani Hor, Pakistan
Due to the migration of sand dunes, the effects of climate change, and related factors such as declining rainfall, the mangrove forests of Miani Hor shrank by 20%–30% in the past two decades, jeopardizing a buffer for the coastline and a nursery for economically important wild fish. In response, the community created multiple organizations to boost mangrove conservation. They also established a no-take zone (where fishing is prohibited), banned illegal small-mesh nets, and—with support from the Pakistani government and WWF—reforested more than 3,200 acres with 3.7 million mangrove trees.
All illustrations © Owen Davey/Folio Art