This year we’ve seen sobering reminders of the vulnerability of many coastal populations and ecosystems in the face of the climate emergency. Floods, droughts and storms have caused devastation in countless coastal communities.
But the small-scale fishers at the heart of these communities are not passive bystanders in this crisis. They’re the biggest group of ocean users by far. They have the knowledge and solutions to rebuild coastal fisheries, to safeguard critical blue carbon, to restore mangroves and seagrasses, and to transform our relationship with our oceans.
As the world has emerged from the pandemic this year, there’s been renewed momentum in grassroots conservation movements spreading around coastlines, with communities connecting to share more practical steps than ever to restore our seas. This year at Blue Ventures, we’ve reached more communities than ever before and have witnessed time and again our ocean’s truly remarkable resilience.
We invite you to join us as we look back at 2022 and the coastal communities working tirelessly to restore our blue planet.
We kicked off 2022 with a landmark learning visit from representatives of Somali communities and conservation organisations to the Kenyan coast to learn from local experiences of community led marine conservation. Our visitors are establishing the Somali region’s first locally managed marine area in Somaliland’s Zeila district.
We are thrilled to expand our work and partnerships with Secure Fisheries and Candlelight to support Somali communities. Following this trip, our Somali partners travelled to see our work in northern Madagascar, learning firsthand from communities about large scale mangrove conservation efforts in Tsimipaika Bay.
As COVID-19 travel restrictions eased, our team was delighted to get back to gathering and sharing the stories of local conservation heroes. Our new chair of trustees saw community-led marine management in action in Tanzania with our partners Mwambao and Sea Sense.
We made a series of short films about the challenges facing coastal communities, their journey towards rebuilding their fisheries, and local successes in curbing the devastating and sometimes deadly practice of blast fishing.
Ocean recovery starts with people. This year we called on policymakers to put fishers first and coastal communities at the centre of conversations about how to protect our seas. We sent an open letter signed by more than 70 organisations from 30 countries to world leaders meeting to negotiate global targets to protect 30 percent of the world’s remaining biodiversity by 2030.
We amplified the voices of coastal communities at the Geneva Biodiversity Conference and urged negotiators to protect the rights of Indigenous and frontline communities and address the main drivers of biodiversity loss, on land and in the ocean.
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We launched an eco-credit project with partners GreenFi and COMRED on the Kenyan coast to provide loans to people in low-income coastal communities. Designed to increase local participation in marine conservation efforts, the loans are tied to marine conservation activities and outcomes.
We’re excited to expand our support for this system to Kenya, having seen the benefits of a similar fund supported by our Zanzibari partner Mwambao, known locally as ‘Mkuba – the fund to care for the sea.’
Also this month:
We learned from communities in Timor-Leste how safety at sea training saves lives, and how life-changing visits to locally managed marine areas inspire communities to establish them. We were pleased to see our work on community-led fisheries management and female leadership in Timor-Leste highlighted as a case study by the FAO, and after a decade of local seagrass conservation we were thrilled to spot a dugong for the first time in locally managed waters on Atauro Island
Our data show that up to 30 percent of small-scale fishery landings in Comoros are lost due to catches being spoiled.
We’re working with our Anjouan-based partner Dahari to help fishers increase earnings and reduce overfishing by supporting women to preserve their catches through seafood smoking, work that has attracted national media coverage
We attended the UN Ocean Conference to support the calls of small-scale fishers from across the globe for greater recognition of their rights and greater involvement in ocean policy making. Representatives from coastal communities and civil society from Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa, Asia and the Pacific discussed the challenges they face and the vital role communities play in restoring fisheries.
Our Executive Director reiterated this message at the UN plenary and discussed the role of philanthropy in saving our oceans on UNTV. We welcomed the Government of Thailand’s commitment to reduce destructive bottom trawling during our Transform Bottom Trawling Coalition event.
We are working to strengthen marine conservation leadership in the Western Indian Ocean by training leaders of outstanding conservation organisations through the African Marine Conservation Leadership Programme.
With our partner Maliasili, we are now recruiting the next cohort, and looking to expand this dynamic network of ocean changemakers. Hear how this programme has benefited some of Africa’s most dynamic conservationists.
Also this month:
Our colleagues in northern Madagascar celebrated the recovery of the shrimp fishery in a large mangrove locally managed marine area. Shrimp fisheries collapsed following decades of intensive local and industrial fishing, and the improving catches seen by communities are a testament to the effectiveness of local conservation efforts.
Also this month:
Mangroves, seagrasses and salt marshes capture and store staggering amounts of carbon dioxide in natural sinks – known as blue carbon. These habitats play a vital role in ocean health. They are also critically important to coastal people, protecting shorelines against storm surges and underpinning countless fisheries.
We support coastal communities to manage and restore mangrove forests to safeguard and improve their fisheries, incomes and marine environments, as our Kenyan mangroves expert Esther Ngure wrote in an opinion piece.
We launched our first partnership in West Africa with conservation organisation Tiniguena in Guinea-Bissau, whose long-standing work with remote communities living in the Bijagós archipelago led them to establish the country’s only locally led marine area.
We’re looking forward to expanding our work in the region to reach more coastal communities confronting climate change, overfishing, and destructive fishing practices, and support them to rebuild their fisheries and protect their seas.
We supported community leaders from five continents to attend the UN’s COP15 summit in Montreal, Canada. Indigenous, small-scale fisher, coastal community and civil society representatives took part in our panel event and other important discussions urging governments to recognise the centrality of human rights and social justice to global conservation targets.
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Our accomplishments this year were only possible thanks to the support of our friends, partners, and thousands of supporters like you. We are enormously grateful to everyone who has supported us this year to drive forward this locally led global marine conservation movement.
2023 promises to be a pivotal year for the community conservation efforts worldwide. We have exciting plans to increase our reach and impact, supporting more frontline coastal communities to drive local efforts to restore our oceans.