Internship Paper–Earth Systems 210

Senior Seminar

I spent the months of June, July, and August of last year in the village of Anakao, Madagascar examining the possibility of establishing a marine reserve on at an adjacent island and cay reef. Working through the government of Madagascar’s National Environmental Office (ONE), a Marine Institute (IH.SM) of marine biologists and oceanographers, and a community fishing association at Anakao (FIMIMANO), two other students and I executed a data-driven study of the antrhopological, economic, and ecological forces at play in Anakao’s fishery. From the information we gathered we will be able to produce a set of recommendations for the mentioned agencies geared toward the successful conservation of the area’s marine natural resources and the people who work intimately with those resources. Such a project has engaged both my interests in marine ecology and conservation, as well as my desire to apply those interests in the field for the benefit of communities.

My initial introduction to Madagascar and Anakao was a program in conservation and ecology with the School for International Training. My semester in Madagascar revolutionized my consideration of environmental problems and issues; Madagascar’s ecosystems and landscapes have seen unprecedented destruction unrestrained by ideas of sustainable development. These glaring environmental problems, and their associated statistics of 80% deforestation, dramatic loss of biodiversity and endemism, species extinction, etc., far surpassed any notions of environmental problems that I harbored from my own prior experience in the field. My immediate response to such incredible degradation was to call for preservation, action to restrict use of natural resources, regulate destructive practices such as slash and burn agriculture and mining, and to tell these people, for goodness’ sake, that they were destroying precious natural habitat, and to please stop. My personal revolution, however, was not along time coming; it was soon apparent that the people of Madagascar were not just over-exploiting their natural resources and degrading the integrity of their resources for the hell of it, but to put dinner on the table for huge and hungry families, to afford aspirin for any sickness, and to subsist as well as they could. I at first wanted to blame the people of Madagascar for being so short-sighted as to ignore the long-term effects of their practices today. I had imagined myself enlightening them as to the concept of sustainability; after all, I had learned in Earth Systems that humans are an integral part of the environment and that careful consideration of natural resources use holding in mind the plight of future generations could lead to a saved world.

My preconceptions came crashing down sadly, though, as I shifted my frame of environmental thinking and beliefs to include the confounds of poverty. My internal revolution did not leave me without hope and resolution. I ended my semester in Madagascar with an independent study project investigating the effects of sedimentation on fringing coral reefs of the southwest coast of Madagascar. During my individual project, I came to know the culture and economy surrounding inshore fishing on Madagascar’s coral reefs, and I became acquainted with two organizations attempting to ensure the sustainability of fishing villages and peoples in southwest Madagascar by understanding the complex coral ecosystems and effectively managing their fisheries. I attended lectures and discussions with scientists from the Institute of Marine Sciences in the regional center of Tulear. The IH.SM is a university research facility that conducts research efforts in Madagascar’s marine realm. The scientists from IH.SM study a variety of marine topics, and a majro recent focus of the Institute has been the area of marine conservation. Invsetigating marine conservation issues with the help of the Marine Institute quickly led me toward governmental bodies regulating marine resources, and I had the good fortune of meeting and entering discussions with members of the Nation Environmental Orgranization’s Marine and Coastal Unit (ONE/EMC). With both policy makers and scientists accessible to me, I devised a plan to return to Madagascar with funding from my university. At this point in time, I no longer believed myself or anyone else capable of saving the world, or Madagascar, or Madagascar’s coral reefs and fisheries. I retained the hope and motivation, however, of affecting positive environmental change by cooperating with local officials and communities to develop strategies for managing natural resources. My revolution had become a resolution of my principles of conservation. I would return to southwest Madagascar, coordinate my efforts with those of scientists and officials invested in marine issues, and execute a project that would benefit the region. (Thus the birth of my Earth Systems internship.)

The infantile internship with the umbrella title of "a conservation project in southwest Madagascar" found its niche among the research needs of the region in a village called Anakao and its support from the Undergraduate Research Opporutuinites office and the Earth Systems department at Stanford. I was in email contact with Andrew Cooke and Hubert R**** of ONE/EMC and with Man-Wei **** of the IH.SM, and they alerted me to a project in Anakao, working with a community association of fishermen to establish some sort of marine reserve at the nearshore cay island of Nosy Ve. Here was a local group of fishermen, called FIMIMANO, from the village of Anakao and nearby villages who realized the threats of over-exploitation and tourism to their fishing resources, and who recognized that appropriate management was needed for Nosy Ve in order to ensure the future of the fishery and thus the future of Anakao. My role in this project would be to assess the feasibility of establishing a marine protected area by gathering and synthesizing cultural, economic, and ecological data from Anakao and Nosy Ve. "Sustaining a Village Fishery: A Case Study in Marine Conservation" became the object of my enthusiasm for well-designed, thoughtfully-executed conservation projects that search for solutions to conservation problems of multiple variables. Researching the complex issue of establishing a marine protected area at Anakao requires collaboration of actors at the various levels of project design, execution, analysis, and implementation of recommendations. Two other American students agreed to join me in my pursuits, Katie Tanner from Brown University and Scott Stonington from Stanford, and the three of us sought additional aid from two Malagasy masters students, Laurette and Zalihanta, from the Marine Institute in Tulear. Our research team coordinated, we arrived at our field site in Anakao eager and energetic to orchestrate a feasibility study of a marine protected area, keeping the goals of FIMIMANO and sustaining Anakao’s fishery at the helm of our efforts.

In order to establish a marine reserve, or marine protected area (MPA), in Anakao, we considered cultural amenity to conservation efforts, the economic reality of the fishery in terms of decreased catch due to fishing restrictions, and the conditions of the Nosy Ve coral reef itself. The results of this study are geared toward several audiences, the community association, the national government, and the Institute for International Studies committee of Stanford reading my thesis, which will be one of several products of this project. First and foremost, however, in our minds is a dedication to the needs of the fishermen in Anakao, for whom the Nosy Ve reef is a critical part of their cultural fabric and daily subsistence.



Checking for cultural amenity of the people of Anakao toward a marine protected area is imperative for ensuring recognition of and compliance with regulations as well as local enforcement of fishing restrictions. Data reflecting current conditions on the reef as well as the development of a methodology for study the Nosy Ve reef both contribute to the formation of an effective monitoring strategy for managing the Nosy Ve reef into the future. I have chosen to concentrate on the economic study of the Anakao and Nosy Ve fishery, however, for the purposes of this internship. Embedded in the necessity of economic feasibility for an MPA at Nosy Ve are the conceptual revelations that initially instigated the whole project, as I described above. Simply stated, a marine protected area at Nosy Ve, or any other conservation effort, will not be successful if it significantly impinges upon the ability of local people to provide for themselves and control their resources. Our economic study thus drives at whether or not the benefits of an MPA at Nosy Ve could outweigh the costs, and we further illuminate this analysis with a discussion of the implications of such a conservation measure for the village economy.

We approached the task of quantifying the costs of a marine protected area at Nosy Ve by ascertaining the function of the Nosy Ve fishery in Anakao’s fishing economy and by observing directly the fishing activity at Nosy Ve. Quantifying benefits of an MPA at Nosy Ve poses several difficulties: namely, how to calculate the value, in monetary terms, of an intact coral reef ecosystem and an improved fishery for which no ecological data exists, and how co-opt the economic benefits of tourist use of Nosy Ve as compensation for loss in catch from a restricted Nosy Ve reef. The task of obtaining a cost figure for an MPA founded our economic methodology, and calculation the benefits of a marine protected area by compensating fishing loss ensues from the analysis of costs.

If a marine protected area was established at Nosy Ve that included the whole reef in a no-fishing zone, what is the value of the lost catch for Anakao? This question addresses the central goal of our economic study: to account for the Anakao-based fishing at Nosy Ve and assign that catch a monetary value. We set out to find how much Anakao fishermen catch in any given day measured as Catch-Per-Unit Effort (CPUE), how much of that comes from the Nosy Ve reef based upon the time fishers spent fishing Nosy Ve, and what monetary value the Nosy Ve catch holds, based on market prices for fish and other catch. We relate each of these variables in the following equation.

CPUEAnakao(kg/person/day) * %Days@Nosy Ve * $ValueCatch ($/kg) = $ValueNVeCatch ($/person/day)

We thus proceed to our estimate of the value of the total yearly Nosy Ve fishery; by multiplying the daily value of catch per person by the number of fishers using Nosy Ve and by the number of days in the year, we arrive at a monetary value of the fishery.

$VALUENV ($/person/day) * 365 days * #fishersNV = Total ValueNV ($/year)

Our estimated yearly value of the Nosy Ve fishery is equivalent to the total loss fishermen would suffer if regulations for Nosy Ve restricted all fishing on the reef at all times of the year. We use these two equations to derive our cost estimate in this case of total restriction from fishing Nosy Ve.

In order to obtain values for these variables involved in calculating the cost of an MPA at Nosy Ve, we conducted a village economic study over 45 days comprised of daily surveys of nine families of fishers who fish Anakao’s nearby reefs and three fish collectors who export fish from Anakao to external markets. Family surveys provided daily data on total catch in kilograms, the number of fishers contributing to that catch, the method used, the time spent fishing, the location of fishing that day, the destination of the daily catch, and the price per kilogram sold that day, as featured in Table 1. We chose our families randomly according to accessibility; two thirds of the fishers we interviewed are friends of or related to the family that hosted us for the summer. Though nine families is a small sample size that will not achieve significance in statistical analysis, the sample is representative of Anakao in that each of the nine families is of average means, fishing ability, and size.

Table 1: Daily Family Survey









# men, women, children



Line, net, spear, etc.

Time spent



Fishing location


Nosy Ve, Nosy Satra, inshore



Family, Safari Vezo, Europe



"X" FMg/"Y" kg.

Data collected daily from these families is synthesized into a single figure of Cost-Per-Unit-Effort, or CPUE, measured in kilograms per person per day of fishing. The average CPUE of fishers in our sample was 4.3 kilograms per person per day, as displayed in Figure 1. (display in a table as well?)

Figure 1: Catch Per Unit Effort

We next sought to figure out how much of this total catch for each fisher family comes from the Nosy Ve reef. In our interviews, we asked each day where the family had fished, and we placed the fishing location into one of three categories: Nosy Ve, Nosy Satra, another cay just to the south of Nosy Ve (need to explain cay), and inshore locations, which include areas on the reef that are inshore from Nosy Satra and Nosy Ve. These three categories represent the majority of fishing locations for Anakao fishermen; few fishers have the boats or equipment necessary to travel beyond the Nosy Ve, Nosy Satra, and inshore reef locations to seek out pelagic fish. Figure 2 displays the distribution of the total days each family spent fishing among the three categorical locations, and Figure 3 shows the average percentage of days in each location for our sample.

Figure 2: Fishing Locations


Figure 3: Average Percentage of Days in Each Location

Fishermen in our sample visited Nosy Ve an average of 38% of the days we collected data. Applying this figure to the CPUE of 4.3kg/person/day, we calculate .38 * 4.3 kg/person/day to find that an average of 1.6kg/person/day come from the Nosy Ve reef. Fish catch is valued at an average of 2.500FMg per kilogram NEED TABLE DISPLAYING PRICES OF CATCH…collector data, the total value of the Nosy Ve fishery per person each day is 4.000FMG, about $.65.

To find total combined costs for all fishers who fish Nosy Ve over the year, we multiply the cost per person by the number of fishers at Nosy Ve. We observed all activity at Nosy Ve during fishing hours on 12 days, recording the number of fishermen sighted in each of four sub-areas of the island at half hour intervals. For all of Nosy Ve, we observed a daily average of 184 fisher man-hours. Since fishermen fish an average of 3.5 hours per day, we recorded 184 man-hours/3.5 hours per day = 53 fishers who used Nosy Ve each day of our sample, as illustrated in Figure 4. (HUGE STDEV) So, for an average value for catch from Nosy Ve equal to 4.000FMg per person per day, the total value of the Nosy Ve fishery per day is 53 fishers * 4.000FMg/person/day * 365 days per year. Thus the total value of the Nosy Ve fishery, based on observations of average daily fishing use and catch per unit effort of Anakao fishermen, is estimated at 77.380.000FMg, or a dollar value of $12,896.67 per year.

Figure 4: Daily Fishers at Nosy Ve

Thus, if all fishing was Nosy Ve was restricted for the entire year, the total loss incurred by fishers who use the Nosy Ve reef would be 77,380,000FMg per year. This figure is an extremely rough estimate of the costs of an MPA to fishers of Nosy Ve, however it gives us an idea of the scale of losses in fishing. This figure does not reflect the fact that an MPA will provide the ecological benefit of increased catch in other areas, as fish spawning grounds are protected inside the Nosy Ve area. Since ecological improvement is typically observed 3-5 years after the establishment of a marine protected area (Will Hildsley, WWF, interview), we ignore this benefit in the short term when assessing the costs to local fishers of a Nosy Ve MPA. Additionally, fishing may not be restricted at all times for all methods and all fish species. Various regulatory alternatives to the no-fishing zone exist, and we are still analyzing different options for a range of cost estimates. Our cost figure of 77,38,000Fmg per year represents a total loss of fishing from Nosy Ve.

Our next task was to put forth the idea of compensation of the losses of those fishermen. One option would be to compensate the fishers with a government subsidy. Because Madagascar’s government does not have the financial means to support small-scale programs such as an MPA at Nosy Ve, the subsidy option is unlikely to work for Anakao. The most readily available income alternative in Anakao is the growing presence of tourism. With one major hotel in Anakao and several small sseaonal operators, Nosy Ve receives a significant amount of use for visitors. The hotels, especially the large and dominating force of Safari Vezo Hotel, are generally very supportive of the creation of a Nosy Ve MPA for the enjoyment of their guests who wish to snorkel and dive among healthy coral and fish populations. Money from these tourists could be used to compensate the loss of fishing at Nosy Ve. In fact, a tourist tax for visits and diving at Nosy Ve has been in place since the founding of FIMIMANO, but the tax has been difficult to monitor. The FIMIMANO treasury currently held 365,000FMg as of August from the tourist tax of 1,000FMg per visit to Nosy Ve and 5,000FMg per dive, collected over the past two years. The amount of this tax could be set equal to the cost of fishing losses for fishing, as illustrated by dividing the total costs by the number of yearly visitors to Nosy Ve.

TotalValueNVcatch($/year) / #NVeVisits(people/year) = $TOURIST TAX

Obtaining data for the total number of tourists who visit Nosy Ve per year is somewhat challenging, but we again estimate according to available data. From Safari Vezo Hotel financial records, we know that the 1998 total for visits to Nosy Ve is 857 people (please see figure 5). Assuming that these records are correct and that Safari Vezo visitors to Nosy Ve represent approximately two thirds of all visits, we use 1,286 as the number of yearly Nosy Ve visits. A total cost of 77,380,000FMg for fishermen, divided among 1,286 tourists, gives us an estimated individual tourist tax of 60,171FMg, the equivalent of about $10.00 per tourist per visit(exchange: 6.000 FMg to the dollar).

Figure 5: Safari Vezo Tourists

This tourist tax is probably a high estimate, for several reasons: it represents a total loss of fishing at Nosy Ve, whereas alternative regulations could allow some harvest from the reef; it represents a conservative estimate of the number of tourists who visit Nosy Ve, since operators other than Safari Vezo are often guide services for taking Anakao guests to Nosy Ve, including Safari Vezo guests; and it does not incorporate the potential ecological benefits of increased catch elsewhere due to protected habitat and thus healthier fish populations at Nosy Ve. Nonetheless, when this figure of $10.00 per day is compared to the amount tourists are willing to pay to travel to Madagascar (TRAVEL COST ANALYSIS), it is insignificant. Furthermore, data from interviews with tourists conducted in Anakao and at Nosy Ve suggest that tourists are willing to pay substantially more than the current tax of 1,000FMg per person for the protection of such a precious and spectacular habitat. Hopefully, our final analysis will reflect a compromise of regulatory options and a gradation of the number of tourists. We have generated a high-end estimate of the tourist tax that would be needed to compensate the loss in fishing of a totally restricted Nosy Ve, and thus created a possible mechanism for the benefits of an MPA at Nosy Ve would at least equal the costs. A discussion of the error and problematic issues in such a cost-benefit scheme follows.

REMAINING ANALYSIS: a) compare this estimate to 2nd estimate

**travel cost analysis, WTP

b) marginal cost of increased MPA size

c) marginal cost of more stringent regualtions (quotas)

d) show difference in costs for each fishery (fish/squid/octos….need %!!!)

e) marginal costs of MPA with increasing #tourists

***The rest of this detailed analysis may not be needed for senior seminar paper, and I may be able to cut out the calculations of the general estimate….what do you guys think? The remaining analysis really brings out the richness of our data, but it’s a few more pages of the same type of stuff.

Having obtained a figure for the cost of an MPA and proposed a tourist tax that would cumulatively cover that cost and compensate fishers for their loss in catch due to total restriction of fishing at Nosy Ve, examination of the implications of such a scheme for the village are fundamental to the ability to recommend such a scheme to ONE/EMC and FIMIMANO. Several obstacles to implementation of a compensatory tourists tax exist for regulators attempting to place restrictions on Nosy Ve fishing and to tax tourists according to lost income. We collected data and made observations over two months in order to quantify the costs of an MPA at Nosy Ve and come up with a plan for compensating those costs. We are not so enamored with our cost-benefit scheme as to overlook its problems.

To begin, our sample size is too small to hold any statistical significance, and though our sample is representative of the village as a whole, sources of bias are influential in such a case. Moreover, we make several assumptions as we step through our cost analysis and calculations. Namely, we assume that all fishers of Anakao go to Nosy Ve to fish some of the time, and that all of the fishers at Nosy Ve are Anakao fishermen. Neither situation holds true. Fishing locations are a matter of preference. This suggests, then, that a compensatory tourist tax should be distributed over population greater than that of Anakao, but that perhaps many local fishers are not incurring any loss at all. Fair distribution of the tourist tax is an issue that may be resolved with provision of a good or service to the region that is so highly desirable as to reconcile any feelings of ownership. Such goods and services include communications, electricity, water and sewage treatment, medical centers, or transportation infrastructure. A corollary, and equally formidable, question then becomes what political or governmental body would administer the tourist compensation, be it in the form of a public good or a welfare payment. Having FIMIMANO play this role seems appropriate for keeping the interests as close to the general population as possible, yet FIMIMANO is an association of village fishermen, not a governmental agency. These impediments to implementation of compensation for fishing loss must be considered and accommodated prior to the establishment of an MPA.

Yet another area of controversy may arise over the equity of replacing fishing income with tourist income. Who should be able to continue to fish? Only those who can afford bigger boats and sturdier equipment allowing them to travel greater distances? Jobs will become more and more available in tourist services, but for fishing culture a job in a hotel and the tradition of fishing would probable not be equivalent occupations in the eyes of young fishers. An economically feasible marine protected area that satisfies the cost-benefit equation on paper may still be unsustainable due to the slow and trying shift from a fishing economy to a tourism economy. What’s more, a tourism economy may be no more sustainable than an unregulated fishing economy if it is not managed properly in the spirit of protecting Nosy Ve’s marine resources from pollution and damage.

Lastly, we researched and discuss at length the political and historical circumstances of Anakao that make an MPA seem an acceptable and inviting conservation option for Anakao fishermen. We cannot be sure, however, that compliance and enforcement of regulations will actually take place. Even sensitive and thoughtful environmental regulations may fail to be compatible with local interests, even if research says otherwise. Does this mean that our project has no meaning? It absolutely does not; we have undertaken a comprehensive study of Anakao’s natural resources, its people, and its economy that promotes the idea of sustaining this village fishery, and though the bottom line may be economic feasibility, economics does not stand alone in its implications for the feasibility of an MPA at Nosy Ve. This explanation of the economic study is a part of a greater whole, and it contributes to our effectiveness in making recommendations to those responsible for the future of Nosy Ve.

My internship in Earth Systems allowed me to apply the interdisciplinary approach in the field. Most fulfilling is the knowledge that my recommendations will not only be taken into consideration in regulating Nosy Ve’s marine resources, but will be incorporated into the actual plan. Our studies of Anakao’s culture and economy, as well as of Nosy Ve’s reef, represent an exemplary conservation effort of which I am very proud. Every day in Anakao I was able to explain to at least one person what I was doing, I was able to exchange my academic ecological knowledge with their traditional ecological knowledge, I was able to express my concern for the livelihoods of people who sought after a life like my own, and I was able to begin a grasping of their cultural heritage surrounding the bounty and beauty of the sea. I am no longer convince that I can save the world, for sure, but I do know that conservation has its place in the hope of sustaining a future of human life and marine life. I have proven at least that much.