By Vanina Harel
I was excited to share Mauritius’ positive first steps toward sustainable fisheries last weekend at the Earth Optimism Summit in Washington, D.C.
Mauritius, where I’m from, is a small island in the Indian Ocean that has been victim to pollution, unsustainable development and rapid population growth over the past 50 years. Its lagoons—the shallow water zones between the fringing coral reefs and the beaches—are suffering, and fish and octopus populations have declined rapidly.
Last year, the Mauritian government, in partnership with local NGOs and with support from the GEF Small Grants Programme-UNDP and the FAO/EU/IOC Smartfish Programme, led the first national octopus fishing closure for two months of the year. With a rapid life cycle (18 months on average), the octopus can double its weight in only two months. When the fishery reopened after the closure, the weight of catches doubled.
Georgie, featured in the video above, is one of the fishermen who understands the importance of working together to protect our lagoon ecosystems. With this first initiative’s success, our hope is that more fishermen will advocate, like Georgie, for sustainable fisheries.