Climate Change

Madagascar Fishermen Roll with the Punches as Climate Change Turns Seas Deadly

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.

UN News/Daniel Dickinson

Gaston Imbola prepares his nets ahead of a fishing trip.

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.

04-02-2024-ILO-Mada-01

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. 

FAO Madagascar/Tojotiana Randrianoavy

Valencia Assanaly National Coordinator of the ILO’s Project Eco-Langouste Sud.

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.

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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.

UN News/Daniel Dickinson

The weather in the south of Madagascar is becoming more unpredictable due to climate change.

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.

  • NOTE: for French translation use langouste
  • https://www.ilo.org/africa/countries-covered/madagascar/lang–fr/index…
  • https://www.fao.org/countryprofiles/index/fr/?iso3=mdg

              

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11 Comments

  1. Gina Thompson: 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.

  2. Gaston Imbola explains how fishing in Madagascar has become more dangerous due to the increasing strength of the winds and unpredictable weather patterns. Sadly, lives have been lost as traditional wooden canoes capsize at sea. It’s crucial for fishing communities to adapt to these new challenges with support like that provided by the ILO.

  3. Fishing in these waters has become increasingly dangerous with stronger winds and unpredictable weather. Sadly, lives have been lost as traditional wooden canoes struggle in the ocean. Recent incidents highlight the urgent need for adaptation strategies to ensure the safety of our fishers.

  4. Gaston Imbola explains how fishing in these waters is becoming more dangerous due to stronger winds and unpredictable weather patterns. He highlights the risks faced by fishers as traditional canoes capsize in the ocean, leading to tragic consequences. Valencia Assanaly also stresses the impact of climate change on fishing communities in Madagascar.

  5. Is there any specific technology or equipment that the fishing communities are using to adapt to these more dangerous sea conditions?

    1. Yes, we are constantly seeking innovative solutions to navigate the rough seas. We have invested in sturdier boats and improved life-saving equipment, such as GPS navigation devices and emergency beacons. Our community is also receiving training on how to respond to emergencies at sea more effectively. We are determined to adapt and continue our way of life despite the challenges.

  6. Do the fishers receive any specific training or support from the ILO to help them adapt to these dangerous sea conditions?

    1. Yes, the fishers are being trained by the ILO on how to navigate these increasingly treacherous waters and are also provided with support in terms of modern safety equipment. It is crucial for their safety and livelihoods.

  7. Gaston Imbola expresses concern about the increasing dangers fishermen face due to climate change, highlighting the stronger winds and unpredictable weather. He notes the tragic incidents of fishermen losing their lives at sea. Valencia Assanaly from ILO intervenes to address the climate-related challenges.

  8. As a fisher myself, I can relate to the challenges faced by fishing communities in Madagascar. It’s heartbreaking to hear about the dangers they now encounter due to climate change. The efforts of organizations like the ILO are crucial in helping these communities adapt and survive.

  9. Does the ILO provide any specific training or resources to help these fishermen cope with the changing sea conditions?

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