A postcard from the underwater world



Posted on 30 April 2012  | 
The underwater world south of Toliara is a beautiful one. Rich in fishes and corals, it is a diver’s paradise. Butterfly fish flies around and hordes of snappers pass by in the amazingly coloured coral environment. On the surface a couple of pirogues search for today’s catch. I am back after a long day of diving, with a plate full of data and a mind full of impressions.

Precious resources
Having spent my childhood selling crabs at the local market, I have a strong feeling of community with the local fishermen here. Although the living standards of Norwegian and Vezo fishermen are completely different, we have one of the most important things in common; the life with the sea. And the same challenges arrive as well; ocean resources must be managed cleverly to provide a livelihood in the future. Learning the hard way has unfortunately been the rule and not the exception for the developed world’s fisheries. For the Vezo, this has to be avoided. If their fisheries collapse, they don’t have any alternative.

Securing the Vezo’s marine resources is the aim of our project. WWF and NORAD have worked since 2007 to implement sustainable fishery management. Our survey will provide the Vezo with scientific information about their precious resources. And it will give them feedback on their management efforts so far.

A world of corals

In all of this, my job is limited to register corals. This is done by making ten meters long transects on the sea bottom, and note the genre and size of corals. Being precise is imperative, a challenge when waves push you in all possible directions. And identifying corals in itself is not easy. At first glance, all the corals looked the same for me! But weeks of intense training do help. Finally I felt that I could contribute to the group, even if the majority of the other members are professional marine biologists. The limited task of coral registration could eventually be performed even by an economist as myself!

We are surveying six sites from Maromena and south to Ambohibola. A long coastline where the ecosystem is as important as it is beautiful. It provides food and shelter for thousand of species of fish. And food for thousands and thousands of people. Protecting the environment is securing the livelihood of the people. Hopefully, our survey will be a small contribution on the way to achieving this goal.

WWF Volunteer Eirik Lindebjerg

Ambohibola Reef, Madagascar
© WWF / Vola Ramahery Enlarge
Ambohibola Reef, Madagascar
© WWF / Vola Ramahery Enlarge
Ambohibola Reef, Madagascar
© WWF / Vola Ramahery Enlarge

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