Strengthening Madagascar’s Shrimp Industry | WWF
Strengthening Madagascar’s Shrimp Industry

Posted on 25 May 2015

The pink gold, this is what Malagasy shrimp was called as recently as a decade ago. Industrial shrimp fishing began in Madagascar in the 1960s and quickly expanded to a peak size of 70 industrial trawlers and 36 artisanal vessels by the early 2000s. At that time shrimp was the leading Malagasy export in terms of value.
The pink gold, this is what Malagasy shrimp was called as recently as a decade ago.

Industrial shrimp fishing began in Madagascar in the 1960s and quickly expanded to a peak size of 70 industrial trawlers and 36 artisanal vessels by the early 2000s. At that time shrimp was the leading Malagasy export in terms of value.

However since that time the decline of the shrimp industry has mirrored an apparent decline in shrimp stocks. Since 2002, the industrial fishing capacity has decreased by more than 40% and the artisanal sector has completely disappeared.

Shrimp products are now 4th among national export values.

The Road to MSC Certification

A recent workshop held in Antananarivo in early May resolved to restore the Malagasy shrimp industry to its former glory. More than 40 people attended the workshop, representing the Marine Resources and Fisheries Ministry (MRHP), the Ministry of Environment, Ecology, Sea and Forests, the fishing industry, non-governmental organizations, small-scale fishers associations, scientific institutions and the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC).

The delegates unanimously approved an action plan that will move Madagascar’s shrimp industry towards meeting the globally recognized MSC standards.

Historically, the shrimp fishery sector has been keen on moving towards eco-certification. The MSC is the world's leading certification and eco-labeling program for sustainable seafood. In order to get certified, a fishery must comply with a diverse range of standards related to sustainable fish stocks, minimizing environmental impacts and effective management.

In 2003 and 2009, the Madagascar Shrimp Farming and Fishing Industry Association (GAPCM) commissioned pre-assessments of the shrimp fishery against MSC standards. Later, in 2013, all stakeholders recommended that MSC certification should be considered as a priority.

Therefore, the MRHP, the GAPCM and WWF joined their hands to improve the shrimp industry, signing a Memorandum of Understanding in November, 2014. This Memorandum aims to develop and implement a fishery improvement project (FIP) for the industrial shrimp fishery in Madagascar. A FIP brings together multiple fishery stakeholders, identifies the weaknesses of the fishery against the MSC standards, and improves fishing practices and management in order for a fishery to ultimately meet the MSC standards.

The three parties commissioned an expert team to update the latest pre-assessment of the industry and to draft an action plan. This draft action plan then went through a national stakeholder consultation, which ended with the national workshop organized in Antananarivo where the action plan was unanimously approved.

The Road Ahead

To reach MSC certification, the shrimp industry, the Fisheries Ministry and all partners identified in the action plan will have to:

1) Evaluate the current size of the shrimp stock and identify ways to track the population size

2) Improve information collected to help decision making. This includes revising the small scale shrimp fishery monitoring system, the data collected on board fishing vessels (biological observations on shrimp catches, by-catch and discards) and improving mapping of the fisheries activities

3) Develop a co-management system allowing for appropriate management measures to be taken with the information available; and

4) Develop a strategy for managing the traditional small-scale fisheries sector.

Madagascar now has an action plan, which provides a framework for moving the shrimp fishery sector toward sustainability. The MRHP, GAPCM and WWF have committed to support the implementation of this action plan that has been validated by all stakeholders. By working together to implement this FIP all partners hope to solve the crisis the shrimp industry is facing, to return the shrimp fishery to economic vibrance, while ensuring sustainable practices and food security for local communities.
Industrial Shrimping Trawler
© GAPCM
Traditional Shrimp Fishers
© WWF Madagascar / Didier Fourgon
© GAPCM