Voluntary Marine Conservation Areas
What are VMCAs?
Voluntary Marine Conservation Areas (VMCAs) are selected sites in the lagoon where resource users and coastal communities agree that no extractive or destructive activities will be done. The primary objective is to help marine life and biodiversity of these VMCAs and the surrounding lagoon restore themselves. VMCAs can only be established with the support and approval of all fishermen registered at the nearest fish landing station to the chosen site.
A participatory resource management process
At each site, a VMCA committee composed of boat operators, fishermen, village representatives and volunteers is set up in order to carry out sensitization activities and monitor compliance with VMCA rules. Reef Conservation works closely with stakeholders to identify the gaps in marine conservation management, initiate dialogue between the main resource users, build capacity in marine resource management and provide training in marine ecology and conservation.
The VMCAs: Roches Noires, Trou d’Eau Douce and Anse-la-Raie
The two VMCAs in Trou d’Eau Douce and one in Roches Noires have served as pilot sites. Between 2009-2011 and with the support of the Regional Programme for the Sustainable Management of the Coastal Zones of the Countries of the Indian Ocean (ReCoMap) with funding from the European Union, Reef has worked closely with the two communities to help support the establishment of a VMCA committee, which include fishers, members of the village council, trained Marine Eco-Guides and community representatives. And in 2014 a new VMCA was approved by stakeholders and community in Anse La Raie.
To ensure the long term existence, management and success of these voluntary conservation sites, there is need for further understanding of the ecosystems and biodiversity within them. With new funding, the organization aims to further develop its ties with each village and train volunteers in ecological monitoring, communication and reinforce the surveillance at each site.
Economic and social sustainability of the VMCAs
A feasibility study for new eco-tourism initiatives will be carried out in Roches Noires for the future development and sustainability of the VMCA. The results of this study may well lead to the creation of new income generating activities for the trained marine Eco-guides and the Roches Noires community.
Produced maps of Roches Noires and Anse La Raie
These maps show our study sites in both lagoons as well as the different eco-systems that can be found in Anse La Raie lagoon.