Farming the sea for alternatives

Our community-based aquaculture initiative is providing coastal people with new sources of income, allowing improved access to food and education, while alleviating pressure on fisheries and marine biodiversity.

Small-scale fisheries are fundamental to the livelihoods and food security of some the world’s poorest communities. Yet marine ecosystems and the fisheries they support are facing unprecedented pressures. With 75% of global fish stocks already overexploited or fully exploited, there is a critical need to diversify coastal livelihoods to reduce pressure on marine resources.

92% of Madagascar’s population lives on less than US$2 per day. In arid and isolated coastal zones, there are few economic opportunities beyond fishing and people are highly reliant on the sea for their survival. As part of our integrated approach to marine conservation and development, we work with communities and private sector partners to develop viable livelihood activities appropriate to the local environment and culture.


farmers of sea cucumbers and seaweed are supported by Blue Ventures in Madagascar


of seaweed farmers are women


total net income in 2014


sea cucumbers harvested in 2014

Find out more



Connecting communities with markets

Working with the University of Toliara’s marine science institute (IHSM), local seafood exporter Copefrito and aquaculture company Indian Ocean Trepang (IOT), we are connecting isolated coastal communities with lucrative international markets for seaweed and sea cucumbers, enabling families to develop their own aquaculture businesses.

Our aquaculture specialists have trained over 700 people to become farmers of sea cucumbers (Holothuria scabra) and red “cottonii” seaweed (Kappaphycus alvarezii). Sea cucumbers (known as trepang after processing) are in high demand in Asian markets where they are considered a delicacy, health food and aphrodisiac, while red seaweed is widely used in food and cosmetics industries as a texturing agent.

Why seaweed and sea cucumbers?

  • Well suited to Madagascar’s extensive shallow coastal lagoons
  • High demand from lucrative international markets
  • Farms operate with low running costs
  • Production methods are simple, requiring minimal initial training, and producing negligible adverse environmental impacts
  • An established network of business and research partners provides assured access to markets, hatchery technology and supply, and technical expertise to maximise the benefits to communities

Aquaculture partners

Catalysing local entrepreneurship

We are committed to developing models for community-based aquaculture in which farms are fully owned and operated by communities themselves. Our aquaculture teams provide materials, technical guidance and assist with start-up costs, while our training programmes help to build the technical, financial and managerial skills needed by fishermen and women to manage their own aquaculture businesses.

We also help to nurture new partnerships between farmers and seafood exporters, microfinance institutions, development funds and business training organisations. This business management support is fundamental to improving revenues and working towards the long-term sustainability of aquaculture businesses in these isolated communities. Over half of the farmers supported by Blue Ventures are women, who are able to use their new income to help pay for children’s school fees and supplement their family’s diet.

Scaling success

Introducing new innovations in coastal aquaculture is not a simple task, and requires strong technical partnerships and practical experience. The commercial nature of many aquaculture businesses means that results and developments are generally not publicised; experiences of overcoming technical, logistical and financial challenges in production are rarely shared.

We are committed to promoting and sharing best practice in community-based aquaculture, maximising the number of people able to benefit from these livelihood activities. We are working to improve networking among aquaculture initiatives, developing a new Indian Ocean network for practitioners, as well as tools such as technical handbooks for sea cucumber farmers.

Meet our aquaculture team

Aquaculture Project Coordinator
Toliara, Madagascar
Lead Aquaculture Technician
Andavadoaka, Madagascar
Aquaculture Project Assistant
Andavadoaka, Madagascar
Sea Cucumber Project Officer
Andavadoaka, Madagascar
Aquaculture Technician
Ankitambagna, Madagascar
Aquaculture Assistant
Andavadoaka, Madagascar
Boat Driver and Aquaculture Technician
Andavadoaka, Madagascar

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