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Hermany Emoantra

Meet Hermany, the new president of the MIHARI Network

Originally from the village of Anakao in southwest Madagascar, Hermany spent his entire childhood on the coast.

Unlike many of his peers, he managed to finish his education, and had aspirations to join the military, but he ended up deciding to follow in his father’s and grandfather’s footsteps, and devoted his time to fishing.

He is now in his fifties, is a husband and father of six, four boys and two girls. He is known and admired in the village for his humility and his great love for nature and for his country.

He has always been a very engaged citizen, and this in combination with his detailed knowledge of the ocean led to his involvement with the management association of the FIMIMANO Locally Managed Marine Area (LMMA).

It became clear right away to the management association that Hermany was a natural leader, and it wasn’t long before he was given some major responsibilities. He was elected as the president of the economic committee in 2006, and just a year later he was unanimously elected as the president of the whole LMMA.

Hermany during a FIMIMANO meeting in Anakao

“I want to be more involved in the protection of the marine environment for future generations. I have always tried to put my passion and belief into actions, and I always will.” – Hermany’s speech during the LMMA presidential election.

During his presidency, Hermany became one of the most active members of the civil societies in southwest Madagascar. The FIMIMANO management association grew significantly under his tenure, with the help of SAGE and the Tany Meva Foundation, and acquired its own headquarters.

Always wanting to improve his skills, Hermany attended many training workshops on capacity building, association management, conflict management, natural resource management and conservation. He even had opportunities to leave his country and network abroad.

“I always felt that there was such a long way to go for me to achieve all my responsibilities as a LMMA president, so to increase my knowledge and skills, I left my town, for the first time ever, in 2008 to attend a workshop on marine turtles in the Comoros. In 2011, I flew to Senegal for a site exchange, where I learnt about the sustainable management of marine resources outside of Madagascar. As a simple fisherman, who had never been abroad or left my region, those experiences really changed my perception of things.”

The 31st July 2017 was the last day of the MIHARI Network’s national forum, and witnessed a historic moment, as all the LMMA leaders voted for the network’s first national board president. Hermany was one of six candidates, but successfully won over the assembly with his humble attitude and generous spirit.

“I know my fellow candidates, I have seen them all during past MIHARI events, regional forums, national forums. They are all my friends. Whether I am elected or not does not matter, as I know that all of the candidates care about protecting our marine resources using Locally Managed Marine Areas.”

It was a tight result, but Hermany emerged as the clear winner after the first round of voting.

Hermany with all the candidates during the election

The son of a fisherman from Anakao received a standing ovation from all the LMMA leaders of Madagascar, and a new era began for the MIHARI Network.

“I was a bit nervous about the challenge of speaking in front of hundreds of people, but it felt amazing as well. I believe that my skill with words combined with the beauty and hospitality of the people in Fort-Dauphin has helped me win this election” he said, smiling. “I am proud to be elected as the president of the MIHARI Network, and proud to have this opportunity to serve my country. However, I do not want to be the only person making decisions. I wish to engage my peers and for us to make decisions together. I highlighted during the election that I plan to abolish the use of destructive fishing gears, but I will also strive to address any other crucial issues that we fishermen face.”

The news that Hermany had been elected was greeted with great celebration in Anakao and the FIMIMANO LMMA.

“Many of us met during the election and tried to stay updated by phoning one of our friends at the MIHARI forum. We were thrilled to pieces when we heard about the result” said Célestin Regovy, the village leader in Anakao, adding “we are really proud to have one of our friends achieve such a high position. We all wish him the best of luck.”

This does mean however, that the FIMIMANO LMMA has to vote for another president.

“No one will ever be able to replace Hermany” continued Célestin, “he really has done a lot for our village. ”

Resigning as the president of FIMIMANO was not an easy decision to make for Hermany, but he knows he will never forget his roots.

“Being the president of a large network will be very challenging for me but I promise to always be there alongside FIMIMANO whenever they need me, as I know they will be alongside me when I need them.”

As his first mission as the president of MIHARI, Hermany recently visited an LMMA in northwest Madagascar, and has since attended various coordination meetings.

“Exchanging with my LMMA friends in the north was a really fruitful experience for me, and I’m doing things I never thought I’d do in my entire life, I sent my first ever email the other day! It’s now easy for me to get in touch with regional and national authorities, and I really have a feeling for how I can turn my ideas in impact and development for the MIHARI Network. I can’t wait for my other four colleagues, who will soon be elected, so that the MIHARI national board can function as it is supposed to.”

Hermany will hand over his responsibilities as president at FIMIMANO to one of his peers and before becoming the MIHARI president on a full time basis. Challenges await him, but this fisherman from Anakao has earnt the pride of his village, and we’re sure he’ll soon have earnt the pride of all the fishing communities in Madagascar.

Join us in wishing him the best of luck!