Life as a Early Career Ocean Professional in 2023

By Andriambola Tsiory Mashiyyat

My name is Andriambola Tsiory Mashiyyat and I have a MSc in Marine Science and Fisheries from the Institut Halieutique et des Sciences Marines, which is in Toliara, Madagascar. During my Master’s thesis I studied blue carbon stocks on the mangroves in the northern part of Madagascar. There has been plenty of research in this area, but little on access, implementation and policy influencing blue carbon markets. Earlier in 2022, while attending the Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association symposium in South Africa, I had the opportunity to exchange ideas with colleagues working on blue carbon which inspired me to undertake more research in this field. The IORA Blue Carbon Hub Early Career Ocean Professionals (ECOP) program was a brilliant opportunity to learn more and develop my knowledge in blue carbon finance.

Research Overview

My research project is a policy brief titled “Blue carbon finance in Madagascar”. Despite the high biodiversity and endemism in Madagascan forest ecosystems, action to protect these resources face challenges stemming from deforestation and climate change. Since 2014, the government has undertaken a program to tackle these issues via the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation framework (REDD+). Madagascar’s northeastern and eastern rainforests are the main focus of the national program. Until now, there has only been one independent blue carbon project – the Tahiry Honko project, located in southwest Madagascar at the Bay of Assassins. This project is operational and able to sell carbon credits.

I reviewed the policy frameworks, regulations and programs related to climate change adaptation and mitigation, and carbon market access in Madagascar. I then compared these national frameworks with international guidelines for carbon finance. This review highlighted the challenges and opportunities for the inclusion of blue carbon ecosystems in Madagascar’s climate change mitigation and adaptation policies.

Mangroves in Madagascar Photo credit: Andriambola Tsiory Mashiyyat

The findings indicate that incorporating blue carbon ecosystems into the national framework faces limitations due to the current definition of the REDD+ program, specifically its connection to the forestry ecosystem. For example, seagrass ecosystems which are not  classified as forests are excluded. The national REDD+ framework is designed for large programs that require substantial investment to run. Up to 60% of funds from the sale of carbon credits are allocated to operational activities in which different actors such as NGOs, communal staff, national and regional REDD+ platforms and private sectors are involved. Another 20% is allocated to the State budget, supporting actors engaged in REDD+ governance, from planning to the execution of REDD+ activities. The remaining 20% is directed to local communities. However, monitoring and patrolling activities at the local level depend on additional funds or volunteer efforts from the communities.

Development of flexible frameworks that could accommodate ecosystems other than forests (such as seagrass ecosystems) would be a useful commitment in Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC’s) of Madagascar. Further empowerment of local communities in their engagement and alleviating the dependence of grassroot actions on external funds should also be considered. Finally, a rapid response from the conception to the implementation and operationalization of adopted frameworks by all different actors and stakeholders is strongly recommended.

Figure 1.(left to right) Mashiyyat, Ahlam, Mark, Lauren and Mat in Perth at the IORA Blue Carbon Hub.

Program Overview and benefits in the future

This program was not only research focused, but also an opportunity to experience Aussie daily life. During this program I had the opportunity to meet the alumni from this program where I met Karizki from Indonesia and discussed our similar studies. Also, I had the honour to discuss my subject with the former Ambassador of Australia to Madagascar about policy and blue economy in the Western Indian Ocean region.

In my free time, Ahlam (my fellow ECOP) and I visited the city of Perth where we found some interesting spots. I had a long list but I strongly recommend the aquarium for marine life lovers (Figure 2) and the gardens of Kings Park where I saw the first living organisms “stromatolites and thrombolites” it also has a great view of the city.

Figure 2. Showing Ahlam (left) and Mashiyyat (right) exploring the local aquarium.

This program was a success thanks to Lauren who has helped a lot to ensure everything ran smoothly before we came and during the program, Mark for logistical help and support and Mat for supervision and networking. I had the opportunity to develop my knowledge and network for actors in the field of blue carbon and policy in the Indian Ocean Region.

Tsiory Mashiyyat Andriambola

Institut Halieutique et des Sciences Marines