Blue Ventures

Last updated
Blue Ventures Conservation
Blue Ventures logo.png
Founded2003
FounderDr. Alasdair Harris, Tom Savage, Dr. Robert Conway, Matthew Linnecar
Focus Marine Conservation, Sustainable fisheries, Community health, Education, Aquaculture, Alternative livelihoods, Blue carbon, Family planning, Eco-tourism, Invasive species
Location
Area served
Madagascar, Belize, Timor Leste
MethodResearch, education, community capacity building, advocacy
Website www.blueventures.org

Blue Ventures is a science-led social enterprise that develops transformative approaches for nurturing and sustaining locally led marine conservation. The organisation works in partnership with coastal communities in places where the ocean is vital to the culture and economy.

Contents

Blue Ventures' range of marine management models are designed to address the barriers between communities and conservation, by integrating community-led resource management with community health and alternative livelihood initiatives to benefit both people and nature.

Blue Ventures works in the Indian Ocean, southeast Asia and the Caribbean. They operate field programmes in Madagascar, Belize, and Timor-Leste with a small number of staff based in Comoros, Kenya, Mozambique and Tanzania supporting partners' projects.

Organisation

Blue Ventures is structured as a social enterprise, comprising limited company Blue Ventures Expeditions Ltd (BVE) [1] and registered charity Blue Ventures Conservation (BVC). The ecotourism expeditions operate through BVE to raise money and awareness for their conservation work through international paying volunteers who travel to project sites to assist with research and community projects. BVC, registered with the Charity Commission for England and Wales (charity number 1098893), conducts its own fundraising. [2]

Blue Ventures' marine ecotourism operations also provide an effective platform on which the organisation can develop and test new models for conservation.

Blue Ventures is managed by a 30-person international team, with offices based in London and Bristol, responsible for the overall leadership of the organisation and supporting much larger field teams based within overseas country programmes. In 2017 Blue Ventures employed approximately 200 staff globally. The UK-based international team is supported by a board of trustees and nine advisors who assist staff in furthering the organisation's mission.

History and philosophy

Blue Ventures was co-founded by Alasdair Harris, Matthew Linnecar, Dr. Robert Conway and Tom Savage in 2003. Blue Ventures aims to place the management of fisheries and marine resources in the hands of local communities, particularly in low-income countries where the national capacity for enforcement of marine and fisheries legislation is often weak. Their ethos is based on evidence that management of natural resources is more sustainable when entrusted to those people who depend on it most [3]

Blue Ventures' strategy focuses on empowering coastal communities to manage their own resources and developing effective, adaptive and locally appropriate conservation strategies. The organisation advocates for fundamental human rights of small-scale fishers and works on promoting a human rights-based approach to fisheries management, designed to sustain local small-scale fisheries and safeguard marine biodiversity.

Through its field sites in Madagascar, Belize and Timor-Leste, and in collaboration with partner organisations in East Africa, Blue Ventures is developing and implementing models across four main programme areas: fisheries, mangroves (blue forests), aquaculture and community health.

Programmes

Rebuilding fisheries

In 2004, Blue Ventures supported the village of Andavadoaka in southwest Madagascar to pilot a temporary octopus no-take zone (NTZ) near the island of Nosy Hao. The temporary octopus fishery closure was found to increase catches and boost fishers' incomes. The results prompting neighbouring villages up and down the coast to replicate this community-based approach to fisheries management. [4] The village of Andavadoaka was awarded the United Nations Equator Prize as a result of its efforts to promote sustainable marine resource management. [5] In 2015 a paper analysing the positive catch and economic benefits of periodic octopus fishery closures was published by Thomas A Oliver and colleagues. [6] It revealed significant positive impacts over 36 periodic closures in eight years.

Out of these replication efforts came the need for coordination of these closures among the neighbouring villages, and for a combined set of rules and regulations for fishing, outside of octopus gleaning. To fill this need, the communities worked with Blue Ventures and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) to set up the Velondriake Locally Managed Marine Area (LMMA), administered by the Velondriake Association. This protected area, which unites over 8,000 people from 24 villages in the management of almost 1,000 km of marine and coastal environment, is amongst the largest community-managed marine protected area in the Indian Ocean. In 2014 Blue Ventures worked with communities in northwest Madagascar to support the establishment of the Western Indian Oceans' largest LMMA in the Barren Isles. [7]

By 2017, 28 communities in southwest Madagascar were implementing temporary octopus fisheries closures.

Blue ventures now supports a network of nearly 100 community data collectors in Madagascar, who are local fishers trained to collect important data from daily fish landings in their villages. The results of these monitoring efforts are used to help communities design and adapt resource management measures.

Learning Networks

In 2012, Madagascar's first national LMMA forum was hosted by Blue Ventures and the Velondriake Association in Andavadoaka. This brought together 55 community members from 18 LMMAs representing 134 villages throughout Madagascar. The meeting resulted in the creation of a national LMMA network called MIHARI, an acronym for MItantana HArena and Ranomasina avy eny Ifotony, that translates to "Marine resources management at the local level". Blue Ventures is working with network members to support and develop the MIHARI network by providing training and educational tools. MIHARI now represents 196 LMMA associations, together protecting an area covering 17.7% of Madagascar's seabed (17,125 km).

Blue Forests

Mangroves are one of the world's principal stores of "blue carbon", a term given to carbon accumulated in coastal or marine ecosystems. Globally, the amount of carbon released through clearing mangroves amounts to 24m tonnes of CO2 per year. [8] Madagascar is home to nearly 4,000 km of mangrove forests, the fourth largest extent found in Africa.

Blue Ventures' blue forests programme, established in 2011, links the conservation of mangroves, seagrass and coastal wetland habitats with international carbon markets, sustainable fisheries, and other incentives to catalyse community support for mangrove protection.

The blue forests programme is designed to incentivise community-based conservation of mangrove ecosystems in western Madagascar. [9] Blue Ventures is working to generate carbon offsets through programmes such as REDD+, supporting the conservation and restoration of mangrove forests and promoting sustainable management of mangroves, while contributing to poverty alleviation. The blue forests project is using cutting-edge scientific research to examine deforestation and carbon sequestration in mangroves, while also finding engaging ways to raise awareness in local communities about the importance of mangrove forests.

In 2017, blue forests staff worked towards the transfer of management rights of more than 4,500 hectares of mangroves to communities from regional government departments. This is a key step in enabling local community members to monitor and enforce good practices in the mangrove forests on which they depend.

Aquaculture

Blue Ventures' aquaculture programme supports communities to diversify their livelihoods by developing profitable sea cucumber and seaweed farms as a way of reducing fishing pressure and alleviating poverty. Since their community-based aquaculture programmes were first established, more than 700 people have been trained to farm sea cucumbers and seaweed. Over half of these are women, for whom alternative income sources are limited.

Blue Ventures develops models for community-based aquaculture in which farms are owned and operated by community members. The organisation's aquaculture teams provide materials and technical guidance, and assist the farmers with start-up costs.

Blue Ventures also facilitates small business development with training programmes that build the technical, financial and organisational skills needed by fishers to manage their aquaculture businesses for the long term.

Community health

Isolated coastal communities face a range of interlinked social and environmental challenges. Just as a lack of transport infrastructure can prevent access to seafood markets, it can also prevent community members accessing essential health and family planning services. To improve access, Blue Ventures has established a community health programme, known locally as Safidy, which means "choice" in Malagasy. The organisation has integrated this with their marine conservation and livelihood initiatives.

Safidy contributes to Blue Ventures' holistic PHE approach [10] to conservation and development, which aims to generate long-lasting positive economic, social and ecological change through understanding the connections between People, their Health and the Environment. PHE entails the integration of family planning and other community health services with natural resource management, biodiversity conservation and alternative livelihood initiatives [11]

In 2017, in partnership with Madagascar's Ministry of Health and other private health organisations like USAID, Mikolo and Mahefa Miaraka, Blue Ventures' community health team collaborated in training and supporting community health workers across three regions in Madagascar (Atsimo Andrefana, Menabe, and Melaky) in order to provide family planning, maternal and child health, and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) health services. This will expand into the Ambanja region in the northwest of Madagascar.

Eco-tourism

Blue Ventures runs volunteer expeditions to Madagascar, Belize and Timor-Leste, for international volunteers and for school and university groups. The volunteer programmes are integrated within every part of Blue Ventures' work. Its volunteer programme has received numerous awards within the tourism sector, [12] and been praised by Simon Reeve of the BBC's Indian Ocean Series.

A central component of Blue Ventures' tourism activities at all three expedition sites is the community homestay, which offers a way for coastal communities to diversify and strengthen livelihoods other than fishing, ensuring the economic benefits of tourism go directly to local families, rather than resorts or international investors.

Field Sites

Madagascar

Blue Ventures was founded in southwest Madagascar in 2003, and historically the majority of its operations have been focused along the south, west and northwest coasts of the island. Its national headquarters is located in the capital Antananarivo, and there are five regional offices (in Ambanja, Andavadoaka, Belo-sur-Mer, Maintirano and Toliara) linked to the organisation's programme sites. Blue Ventures' longest running marine expeditions programme is based in Andavadoaka in the southwest.

Blue Ventures is working towards a future where Madagascar's coastal zone is managed effectively by local fishing communities with the support of the government and other actors, thereby providing resilient livelihoods and food security for coastal people, while improving both human and ecosystem health. It works towards this goal by engaging communities at priority conservation sites in the development of integrated solutions to local challenges and incentive-based models. Having identified which approaches can be replicated beyond its field sites, Blue Ventures then collaborates with its conservation and development partners both nationally and internationally to facilitate the wider uptake of these models and develop learning networks that can sustain them.

Belize Programme

Since March 2010, the organisation has been running volunteer expeditions to Belize to conduct scientific research and educational outreach programmes. [13] The volunteer programme in Belize is located on the Belize Barrier Reef, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The organisation conducts ecological monitoring within the Bacalar Chico Marine Reserve [14] in order to advise the Belize Fisheries Department on management effectiveness. [15] Much of the work in Belize is focused on tackling the invasive red lionfish (Pterois volitans) population, including creating a market to drive the targeted removal of the lionfish, developing alternative sources of income such as lionfish fin jewellery and ecotourism trips to survey and hunt lionfish. Focusing on the economic interests of local fishers has led to much more ambitious fisheries management and in 2017 Blue Ventures led the development of a national lionfish management plan in collaboration with the Belize Government.

It also carries out community education, alternative livelihood development and outreach activities in Sarteneja, Corozal District, the largest fishing village in Belize. These include fishery-based management, a successful collaboration with the Sarteneja Homestay Group [16] and supporting Belioness Lionfish Jewelry [17]

Timor-Leste

Blue Ventures' newest expedition site (established 2016) is located on Ataúro island in Timor-Leste, within the Coral Triangle. Covering less than 2% of the earth's oceans, the Coral Triangle hosts more than 75% of all known coral species, almost 40% of all known coral-reef fish species, and more than 50% of the world's coral reefs. Recent research indicates that Ataúro's reefs may harbour the world's greatest average fish diversity [18]

The organisation is working with communities to diversify livelihoods to relieve pressure on declining fisheries, and to manage local marine resources through implementation of local customary laws known as tara bandu.

Blue Ventures is also collaborating with communities in mapping the relatively unexplored marine biodiversity of Ataúro. The organisation has trained eighteen community members in seagrass monitoring, eight of whom have started mapping Ataúro's seagrass meadows, a vital habitat for threatened dugongs. The community of Ilik-Namu has requested support from Blue Ventures to establish a new LMMA and community consultations are underway to develop plans for the protected area, which will be protected under Timorese customary law, tara bandu.

Eight homestay families in the local community of Beloi now host volunteers for up to three weeks for every Blue Ventures expedition, and there are plans to expand the homestay programme with other interested communities on the island. Homestays provide a reliable income stream for host families and this helps to reduce reliance on fishing as the communities primary source of income.

Awards

Blue Ventures has won a number of awards including;

Related Research Articles

Fishery Raising or harvesting fish

Fishery can mean either the enterprise of raising or harvesting fish and other aquatic life; or more commonly, the site where such enterprise takes place. Commercial fisheries include wild fisheries and fish farms, both in freshwater bodies and the oceans. About 500 million people worldwide are economically dependent on fisheries. 171 million tonnes of fish were produced in 2016, but overfishing is an increasing problem — causing declines in some populations.

Unsustainable fishing methods Fishing methods with expected lowering of fish population

Unsustainable fishing methods refers to the utilization of the various fishing methods in order to capture or harvest fish at a rate which sees the declining of fish populations over time. These methods are observed to facilitate the destructive fishing practices that destroy ecosystems within the ocean, and is used as a tool for over-fishing which results in the depletion of fish populations at a rate that cannot be sustained.

Andavadoaka Place in Atsimo-Andrefana, Madagascar

Andavadoaka is a small fishing village located on the southwest coast of Madagascar. It is located in the Morombe (district), 45 km south of the town of Morombe in the region of Atsimo-Andrefana. It belongs to the rural municipality of Befandefa.

Hol Chan Marine Reserve Marine reserve off the coast of Belize

Hol Chan Marine Reserve is a marine reserve close to Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker, off the coast of Belize. It covers approximately 18 km² (4,448 acres) of coral reefs, seagrass beds, and mangrove forest. Hol Chan is Mayan for "little channel".

Vezo people

The Vezo is the term the semi-nomadic coastal people of southern Madagascar use to refer to people that have become accustomed to live from sea fishing. The Vezo speak a dialect of the Malagasy language, which is a branch of the Malayo-Polynesian language group derived from the Barito languages, spoken in southern Borneo. They currently populate most of the littoral zone along Madagascar's west coast between Toliara and Mahajanga.

Earthwatch Institute Scientific field research institute

Earthwatch Institute is an international environmental charity founded as Educational Expeditions International in 1971 near Boston (USA) by Bob Citron and Clarence Truesdale, then superintendent of Vermont public schools. It is one of the largest global underwriters of scientific field research in archaeology, paleontology, marine life, biodiversity, ecosystems and wildlife. For over forty years, Earthwatch has delivered a unique citizen science model to raise funds and recruit individuals, students, teachers and corporate fellows to participate in critical field research to understand nature's response to accelerating global change. Earthwatch's work supports hundreds of Ph.D. researchers across dozens of countries, conducting over 100,000 hours of research annually.

Janet Gibson is a biologist and zoologist from Belize. She was awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize in 1990 for her efforts on conservation of the marine ecosystems along the Belizean coast, in particular the barrier reef system. The Belize Barrier Reef was granted UNESCO World Heritage status in 1996, through efforts of Gibson and others. She is the current director of the Belize Wildlife Conservation Society.

Bacalar Chico National Park and Marine Reserve

Bacalar Chico National Park and Marine Reserve (BCNPMR) is a protected area and UNESCO World Heritage Site on the northern part of Ambergris Caye in Belize.

Climate change and fisheries

The full relationship between fisheries and climate change is difficult to explore due to the context of each fishery and the many pathways that climate change affects. However, there is strong global evidence for these effects. Rising ocean temperatures and ocean acidification are radically altering marine aquatic ecosystems, while freshwater ecosystems are being impacted by changes in water temperature, water flow, and fish habitat loss. Climate change is modifying fish distribution and the productivity of marine and freshwater species.

Ecological values of mangroves

Mangrove ecosystems represent natural capital capable of producing a wide range of goods and services for coastal environments and communities and society as a whole. Some of these outputs, such as timber, are freely exchanged in formal markets. Value is determined in these markets through exchange and quantified in terms of price. Mangroves are important for aquatic life and home for many species of fish.

Velondriake, meaning “to live with the sea” in the Vezo dialect of the Malagasy language, is a locally managed marine area (LMMA). Established in 2006 in southwest Madagascar, Velondriake is home to over 7,000 resident Vezo people and covers a marine and coastal area of about 64,000 ha making it one of the largest LMMAs in the western Indian Ocean. The LMMA includes extensive coral reefs, mangroves, seagrass beds, baobab forests, spiny forest and other threatened habitats. The LMMA includes five permanent coral reef reserves, two permanent mangrove reserves, and numerous periodic fisheries closures (PFCs), primarily for octopus on reefs and for mud crab in mangroves.

Glovers Reef

Glover's Reef is a partially submerged atoll located off the southern coast of Belize, approximately 45 kilometres from the mainland. It forms part of the outermost boundary of the Belize Barrier Reef, and is one of its three atolls, besides Turneffe Atoll and Lighthouse Reef.

Jurien Bay Marine Park Protected area in Western Australia

The Jurien Bay Marine Park is a protected marine park that is located 200 to 300 kilometres north of Perth, off the coastal tip of the Wheatbelt region of Western Australia. The 82,375-hectare (203,550-acre) marine park was formally declared on 31 August 2003 and is situated along the Indian Ocean Drive that extends south from Green Head to the southern boundary of Nambung National Park. It includes many of the islands located in this region.

Population, health, and the environment (PHE) is an approach to human development that integrates family planning and health with conservation efforts to seek synergistic successes for greater conservation and human welfare outcomes than single sector approaches. There is a deep relationship between population, health and environment. Those subjects are not only related to each other but also to other important aspects that are very necessary for keeping PHE in a close-knit relationship.

<i>Pterois</i> Genus of venomous fish

Pterois is a genus of venomous marine fish, commonly known as lionfish, native to the Indo-Pacific. Also called firefish, turkeyfish, tastyfish, or butterfly-cod, it is characterized by conspicuous warning coloration with red, white, creamy, or black bands, showy pectoral fins, and venomous, spiky fin rays. Pterois radiata, Pterois volitans, and Pterois miles are the most commonly studied species in the genus. Pterois species are popular aquarium fish. P. volitans and P. miles are recent and significant invasive species in the west Atlantic, Caribbean Sea and Mediterranean Sea.

Aquaculture started to take off in Madagascar in the 1980s. The majority of Aquaculture in Madagascar includes the cultivation of sea cucumbers, seaweed, fish and shrimp. Aquaculture in Madagascar is being used to stimulate the country's economy, increase the wages of fishermen and women, and improve the regions ocean water quality. Coastal regions of Madagascar are reliant on the Indian Ocean's marine resources as a source of food, income, and cultural identity.

Blue economy is a term in economics relating to the exploitation, preservation and regeneration of the marine environment. Its scope of interpretation varies among organizations. However, the term is generally used in the scope of International development when describing a sustainable development approach to coastal resources. This can include a wide range of economic sectors, from the more conventional fisheries, aquaculture, maritime transport, Coastal, marine and maritime tourism, or other traditional uses, to more emergent spaces such as coastal renewable energy, marine ecosystem services, seabed mining, and bioprospecting.

Environmental issues in Sri Lanka

Environmental issues in Sri Lanka include large-scale logging of forests and degradation of mangroves, coral reefs and soil. Air pollution and water pollution are challenges for Sri Lanka since both cause negative health impacts. Overfishing and insufficient waste management, especially in rural areas, leads to environmental pollution. Sri Lanka is also vulnerable to climate change impacts such as extreme weather events and sea level rise.

Integrated mangrove-shrimp aquaculture

Integrated mangrove-shrimp (IMS) aquaculture is a sustainable farming system used as one of the measures for mangrove rehabilitation and can be described as a method of organic aquaculture. Silvoaquaculture or silvofisheries are also terms used to define this farming practice where mangrove trees are planted alongside shrimp ponds allowing for profitable net income from shrimp farming, as it replicates a more natural habitat.

Nyawira A. Muthiga is an African conservation zoologist who is Director of the Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association Marine Programme in Kenya. She is a conservation scientist for the Wildlife Conservation Society.

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