Fishing for the Future
Jean Christophe Solaray comes from Ankilibory, a fishing village in the Toliara region located 4 kilometers from the sea. He is about 42 years old, though he’s not sure exactly, and is the father of six children, between the ages of 2 and 20.
He’s been a fisherman since forever. Through a lifetime on the water, he has developed a special relationship with the marine world. While diving with mask and snorkel on the reefs, he began to notice the reef was failing. He saw that the after effects of cyclones, which seemed to get stronger and stronger each year, had contributed significantly to the destruction of coral.
The reefs have gradually declined in many coastal areas of Ankilibory. And the activities of local fishermen were not helping to improve the condition of the reefs. The deterioration of the corals was mirrored by a reduction in the quantities of fish and shellfish, and thus less income. In 2012, Jean Christophe had had enough. He decided to do something about it.
An association of ‘United Hearts’
He founded the association Fo Miray , meaning “united hearts” in Malagasy, which aims to protect the sea, coral reefs and ensure the sustainable development of fisheries for the village. The group wanted to operate completely autonomously, without relying on outside help, and to involve the whole village.
They are closely supported by the community. 95% of homes in Ankilibory give 500 ariary per month to the association and the association welcomes and values each opinion in the principle of fihavanana (collaboration, understanding and assistance). Jean Christophe knows that the backing of the community is critical to their success. As he says, “Walk together, feel together, dream together and we move forward together.”
The association’s achievements
One of their first achievements was to create a 4 km road linking the village to the sea, making the shore more accessible and winning support from the community. Fo Miray has also helped buy better equipment for local fishers to avoid damage to the marine environment, especially the coral reef.
The association has introduced fines between 10 000 and 100 000 ariary to punish those who violate dina; local rules and conventions established by the Ministry of Fisheries that serve to protect the sea and marine species. For example, through the use of dina they have established a period prohibiting fishing for octopus between December 17 and February 1, which is the octopus breeding season. Money collected from the fines is used to purchase fishing equipment and to help people during periods of drought and high tides when farming and fishing are made difficult. During these periods, the association distributes five kapoaka of rice (three and a half kapoakas are equal to a kilogram) to each household in order to help them and motivate them to become more involved in the protection of marine resources.
A duty to protect the reefs
As a father, Jean Christophe thinks he has a duty to protect the marine environment since fishing is one of the main sources of income in Ankilibory. “Imagine your home or own land being destroyed and you had nowhere to go. And for the fish? It is totally the same! That’s why I want to bring the villagers to join this cause that concerns us all. “