Recognising the local values of coastal wetland biodiversity for sustainable economic and livelihood development at Résidences La Chaux ‘Barachois’, Mauritius

Problem statement:

Climate change and unsustainable use of coastal and marine resources are contributing to the degradation of the most ecologically critical and threatened ecosystems including coral reefs, and coastal wetlands. This is further reducing fish stock in Mauritius and worldwide. Such threats have an adverse effect on the economy making many vulnerable coastal communities poorer and more marginalized. In recognition of these threats and after working in close collaboration with the local community of Cité La Chaux, EPCO designed an initiative aimed at adopting a collaborative management approach for the sustainable development of a local fishery. This project, with financial and technical help from the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC) and the GEF Satoyama, resulted in the rehabilitation of a Collaborative Management Area (CMA) of approximately 1.5 km2, including the Barachois of Mahébourg/Cité la Chaux and its adjacent mangrove forest.

Goals & Objectives:

The main goal of this community-based project is to contribute to the enhancement of the ecological integrity of the Grand Port lagoon by promoting sustainable management and use of coastal and marine resources with the support and participation of the traditional fishers’ community. This goal will be achieved through different objectives:

  • Enhancing fisheries production locally through mariculture initiatives;
  • Enhancing livelihoods at community level through income generating activities and a healthier environment;
  • Capacity building through training, education, sensitization as well as participation in decision-making and management activities;
  • Improving ecosystem health by conserving ecosystems and offsetting the community dependence on marine resources;
  • Using a collaborative management approach where all stakeholders, particularly the local community, will be involved in all aspects from project design and planning through to implementation in order to ensure project effectiveness and sustainability.

Achievements:

The conservation and restoration of the mangrove forest, which was previously used as a dumping ground, included removal of pest and invasive species followed by seedlings planting and intensive clean-up. Moreover, the area has been embellished through renovation and maintenance of existing structures, addition of walking tracks and the creation of recreational and touristic facilities. Emphasis has been placed on awareness raising, sensitization and information dissemination by all stakeholders through various communication tools such as environmental education programmes, eco-tourism activities and community-based events. Information, resulting from continuous fisheries, bio-physical, socio-economic and governance monitoring, is analysed to evaluate and review the effectiveness of the project, so as to facilitate adaptive management. Information on project evaluation, lessons learned and best practices are continuously shared with all stakeholders.

Day-to-day operations are conducted by the local community including women and youth. Upon recruitment, they are trained and mentored by local, national and international experts including IOC and AFRC. Trained recruits pass on their knowledge and practices to future generations, ensuring project sustainability.

The Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) project empowers the concerned fishing community by giving them the ability to conserve, manage and monitor sustainability of their coastal resources and will ultimately alleviate poverty through alternative income generating activities and capacity-building. Transition from a granted project supported by external technical assistance to a mainstreamed one where all activities are permanently conducted by the local community, will be supported by the development of sustainable financing mechanisms such as:

  • Cultivated species sales;
  • Guided visits (eco-tourism);
  • Recreational fishing;
  • Educational/sensitization activities;
  • Sales of products that are hand-made by the community;
  • Seafood barbecues cooked traditionally by local residents.

This three-year pilot project (2015 to 2018) is expected to serve as a trigger that will pave the way for the development of a national programme to encourage and sustain the development of others mariculture initiatives in unused barachois (33 throughout the island of Mauritius). It also highlights the benefits of collaborative management as an effective approach to managing natural resources. More information click here.