Sustainability | WWF


Posted on 09 February 2010    
If one of the reasons for the massive misuse of the natural marine resources of south Madagascar is the increased number of fishermen, then there are certain analyses of human behavior to be made. For in a culture lacking opportunity and choice, Eric will do what his brother Kyko does, which is what his father Maiky was taught by his father, and so on. In Maromena that is the tradition, where grandfathers, fathers, sons and brothers are likely to have one common life’s work: fishing.

They just perform their job, and the passion for their task is something that seems not to matter. To a certain extent, passion does not exist; at least not in this realm. As there are no other opportunities, no complaints are made. Why should they complain about the only thing that they’ve got left? Some of them do what has been taught, taking no particular pleasure, because passion becomes superfluous when one’s livelihood is chosen from necessity.

While much about the challenges of conservation and sustainable development are discussed, the main challenge is actually to combine the two with the most basic issues of human rights, not only for our generation but for those to come. Human rights become a natural priority that follows as the interdependence of these issues unfolds. They are each simultaneously a part of the other. Therefore, WWF and sponsors should look at the human element before diving into the coral reef, as the issues have their roots on the shore - at least until Eric is provided a choice to become something other than his livelihood as a fisherman.

After all, the community will have to deal with the impact of issues neither foreseen nor experienced by their ancestors: overfishing, global warming and rapid population growth, to name a few. And that requires a wiser management of their natural resource, whether or not they are particularly talented fisherman personally. Regardless of their level of passion in their work, these issues will affect the whole community.

Nevertheless, here we reach the impact of the human rights violation: the lack of education, leads to a lack of opportunity and thus lack of a future with choice. And with the lack of broader, longer-term aims as a community, sustainability becomes just a foreigner’s word, impossible to be translated to any comprehensible local dialect.

If policies on the conservation projects become flexible and start to include development issues such as education, we may accomplish a more sustainable management of natural resources. Despite the government absence and failures, we ought to concentrate on the tools that remain, and while looking after the wild life, mutually respecting human beings.

Perhaps then, Eric won’t be compelled to go out fishing, and so his true passion - and of many others - will be protected, as opportunities will allow them to look and see a new horizon beyond the turquoise lagoon.

Ramon Moraes Sales Moura

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