I’ve come here to Honko to look at fish populations in relation to the health of mangroves and also to assess the effectiveness of the reserves. I go out most days with one of the fishermen. What I learnt pretty quickly is that Malagasy people do not have the same sense of urgency or time keeping as I do. Saying we will go at 10, means we probably will leave closer to 11.
The walk to the mangrove channel is always good and the dogs from Honko often accompany us. Once there, the fishermen set up their net up and walk up the channel to catch the fish. Sometimes we walk up the channel with the fishermen, and occasionally I sit in the pirogue and paddle around taking in the views until its time to count the fish. The fish get separated into their species and then we measure them and put them into a size category (0.2.5cm, 2.6-5cm, 5.1-7.5cm and 7.6+cm). As it is currently winter, I never really catch a huge number of fish. They are often quite small and very rarely more than 10cm long. A lot of the fish look very similar so it is handy to have a local fisherman who can identify them with ease.
As mangroves are often used as nurseries for reef fish, you can spot the juveniles of species found on the coral reefs, such as lionfish, butterfly fish and barracudas! This highlights the importance of the mangroves here in supporting the fisheries on the coral reefs, as well as providing food for the locals.