2019 has been a year of gathering momentum and remarkable achievements, but also of reflection and recalibration. We have continued our journey to champion a new narrative for ocean protection, one of abundance and empowerment rather than austerity and alienation.
We believe that fixing overfishing is the single most powerful thing we can do to keep our oceans alive. And we believe that humanity’s overwhelming dependence on our ocean is the solution that’s been hiding in plain sight. Small-scale fishers are one hundred million strong and provide nutrition to billions. This army of everyday conservationists has the most at stake and only they have the knowledge and global reach needed to reshape humanity’s relationship with our oceans. Helping them achieve this has become Blue Ventures’ reason for being.
Maecha Bora, a women’s group on the island of Anjouan in the Comoros, was inspired to organise the island’s first periodic octopus fishery closure after a community exchange visit to Zanzibar. In collaboration with our local partner Dahari and Blue Ventures, Maecha Bora adapted what they learned in Unguja for Anjouan’s unique context.
Fishers, seafood buyers, conservationists, researchers and policy makers gathered in Toliara to launch a Fishery Improvement Project (FIP) that sets out a long-term vision for improving the sustainability of one of the western Indian Ocean’s largest small-scale fisheries. The FIP, the first of its kind in Madagascar, is designed to create market incentives for sustainable fishing, progressing the fishery towards the requirements of the Marine Stewardship Council’s standard for sustainable fisheries. Read more in the seafood media coverage.
After ten years of developing a model for community-based sea cucumber aquaculture with coastal fishing communities, our aquaculture team traveled to Tanzania to share its experiences with communities in Zanzibar, where there is huge potential for broader adoption of the model.
We believe that conservation works best when coastal communities are leading the process. New research published in the journal Ocean and Coastal Management describes two participatory methods used by Blue Ventures to catalyse locally led mangrove conservation in Madagascar.
Lead author Cicelin Rakotomahazo said “This approach is powerful because communities are involved right from the start, contributing their own knowledge and expertise to improve the management of their local resources.”
Vatosoa Rakotondrazafy won the prestigious Whitley Award for local conservation leaders in the Global South in recognition of her work coordinating the MIHARI Network, Madagascar’s network of locally managed marine areas.
Blue Ventures is proud to be a founding member and active partner of the MIHARI Network, having hosted the network since its creation in 2012. We look forward to supporting the expansion of MIHARI’s activities as a learning network championing the interests of coastal communities over the year ahead
Periodic fishery closures can be a simple yet effective tool to demonstrate to communities the power they have to manage their own fisheries. The impacts of these closures go far beyond increases in the number and size of the target species caught. Communities that have been managing their fisheries in this way have reported a wide array of impacts, including improved skills and leadership, the formalisation of community rights, and increased involvement and representation of women in fisheries management.
Madagascar’s mangroves underpin the livelihoods and wellbeing of coastal communities across the country, but they are also being rapidly destroyed, and finding a viable alternative to mangrove charcoal is crucial if they are to be saved. Blue Ventures has been working with four villages in northwest Madagascar to develop sustainable fuelwood initiatives using the fast-growing brown salwood tree. Since 2014, community fuelwood growers have planted around 72,000 trees over 70 hectares (130 football fields!), with a further 50 hectares planned by the end of 2020.
Haji Machano and Khamis Juma, Blue Ventures’ partner support technicians in Tanzania, have four decades of experience in marine management and community engagement between them. This interview brings to life the skills and traditions held by many coastal communities in East Africa, and offers valuable insight into the importance of working with these communities to manage their fisheries.
“We inherited these mangroves from our ancestors, providing materials we need to survive. I want to ensure we can pass these forests on to our children.”
In southern Madagascar, Blue Ventures and the Velondriake Association launched the world’s largest blue carbon conservation project, Tahiry Honko. This is a globally important milestone in the development of carbon finance to help incentivise community-led marine conservation. Communities within the Velondriake Locally Managed Marine Area will now be able to use funds from the sale of carbon credits to build much needed infrastructure, send children to school, and support local mangrove management.
“We need to reimagine marine conservation as a narrative of abundance and empowerment, not austerity and alienation.”
In his TED talk, viewed over 1 million times in its first month, Blue Ventures’ founder Alasdair Harris reflects on the lives of people whose survival depends on fishing in tropical seas, and our journey to discover a new narrative for ocean protection.
New research published in Global Environmental Change highlights the value of a holistic approach to community-based marine conservation – integrating family planning and other health services with livelihood diversification, gender equality and local marine management initiatives.
“This study has challenged some long-held assumptions about how our health-environment approach works. It has also given us a deeper understanding of the interconnected challenges faced by coastal communities in southwest Madagascar – insights that we’re now applying to refine our programming and technical advice to partners.” – Laura Robson, study co-author and Blue Ventures’ Global Technical Lead for Health-Environment Partnerships
“Everything, once it’s worth something, you won’t see it anymore”.
Like hundreds of millions of small-scale fishers across the world, Madame Kokoly relies on the sea to survive. Through her words we gain an insight into the heavy toll that overfishing and habitat destruction have taken on the Vezo people and experience the reality of their daily struggle for survival.
This short documentary film, produced in collaboration with the Sundance Institute and the Skoll Foundation, is complemented by an interactive website, which looks more closely at the issues raised.
Our oceans and tropical small-scale fishing communities are facing a deepening environmental and humanitarian emergency on a global scale. It is more critical than ever that we continue to prioritise and share our belief in Blue Ventures’ unique community-led and human rights-based approach to marine conservation.
The accomplishments of 2019 were only possible thanks to the support of our friends, partners, and thousands of supporters like you, many of whom have joined us on our field projects worldwide.
Together we can help turn the tide.