2017 was another remarkable year for Blue Ventures, so we’ve pulled together some highlights. These accomplishments were only possible thanks to the support of our friends, partners and thousands of individuals like you who share our vision, many of whom have joined us on our field projects worldwide.
Homestays are an important part of our strategy to diversify and strengthen alternative livelihoods for coastal communities, ensuring the economic benefits of tourism go directly to community families, rather than resorts or international investors. We recently facilitated a learning exchange from Timor-Leste to Indonesia so that Ataúro Island’s new Homestay Association could learn from the Raja Ampat Homestay Association, who are renowned leaders in the homestay game.
A no-trawl zone established in the coastal waters of the Melaky coast in western Madagascar protects over 430,000 hectares of ocean from destructive industrial shrimp trawling. It is the first time the country’s shrimp industry has sat down with traditional fishers and agreed on a no-trawl corridor, representing a new model for human rights based fisheries management in Madagascar, which we hope will be replicated elsewhere in the country.
In 2016 we worked with communities in southwest Madagascar to produce a hilarious action film that promotes good octopus fishing practices. With a cast of actors and musicians from local villages, and some outrageous special effects, the film was an instant hit. Directors Xavier Vincke and Paul Antion discuss the importance of locally produced media to spark conversations with communities about challenging conservation issues.
We’re working with partner organisations and fishing communities in three regions of Sulawesi in Indonesia to share our experiences in managing octopus fisheries to help catalyse community conservation. Accurate data is fundamental to this process, and our monitoring and evaluation team plays a central role in training our partners in participatory monitoring techniques.
Our Medical Director Dr Vik Mohan spoke at TEDxExeter 2017 about Blue Ventures’ holistic approach to conservation, which developed through listening to the coastal communities we support in Madagascar. Our integrated programmes empower women to play a greater role in fisheries management and alternative livelihoods whilst enabling men to learn more about health and family planning.
Our Belize volunteers help our research team collect critical coral reef data in Bacalar Chico Marine Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and National Park. Volunteer Emma Muench describes what it’s like to spend a month at Blue Ventures’ dive camp in this vibrant photostory.
For coastal people whose traditional livelihoods depend on mangrove fisheries and timber exploitation, conserving mangrove forest can be a tough decision. Faced with the rapid decline of this critical and endangered ecosystem, communities within the Velondriake Locally Managed Marine Area have come together to protect their mangroves. This is the story of more than three years of effort to conserve the Bay of Assassins in southwest Madagascar.
An unprecedented gathering of small-scale fishermen and women from around Madagascar brought together over 170 community representatives at the MIHARI national forum in the coastal city of Fort Dauphin. In just five years, MIHARI has grown into one of Africa’s largest and most active civil society networks advocating for the fundamental human rights of small-scale fishers. Community leaders from locally managed marine areas around the country presented a series of motions to Government representatives, calling for greater support and rights for traditional fishers.
Jemima Gomes is Ataúro Island’s first female scuba diver, and she is on the path to becoming Timor-Leste’s first female Dive Master. She is also one of our Dive and Science Assistants and a strong advocate for marine conservation in her community. Her voice and the voices of others like her are invaluable because it is only through community action that conservation efforts on Ataúro can succeed.
Sharing best practices in locally led conservation is an essential component of empowering communities in marine protection. We have produced a new toolkit with Madagascar’s locally managed marine area network – MIHARI – that provides practical guidance for communities setting up local marine conservation initiatives.
Popisi is a village in the north of Banggai Island off the coast of Central Sulawesi, where our partner organisation LINI (The Indonesian Nature Foundation) is developing conservation initiatives with the local Bajo community. For the Bajo fishers in Popisi, octopus is their lifeblood providing vital income to support their families’ needs.
Saturday the 2nd of December 2017 marked an important milestone for the coastal communities within the Velondriake locally managed marine area in southwest Madagascar. It is exactly 3,000 days since the creation of Agnorondriake, the first community-based permanent no-take zone within Velondriake and a significant step towards protecting the region’s marine resources for future generations.
These are challenging times for our tropical seas, but we believe wholeheartedly that our powerful message − that marine conservation can only be sustained when it’s in the hands of those that depend on the sea for their survival − is resonating with more and more coastal communities worldwide.
Join us on our journey.