Blue Ventures’ strategy focuses on empowering coastal communities to manage their own resources, developing marine protection initiatives designed to sustain local fisheries and safeguard marine biodiversity.
These initiatives have guided fisheries policy and legislation, and been replicated by coastal communities, NGOs, and government agencies across hundreds of kilometres of coastline in Madagascar and the Indian Ocean.
Recent successes include the creation of Velondriake, the largest community-managed marine protected area in the Indian Ocean, and a partnership with Madagascar's national parks agency to develop a Locally Managed Marine Area (LMMA) in western Madagascar. As well as supporting national environmental management agencies, our work also pioneers the use of or customary, community-based legislation to support and reinforce marine and coastal management.
Conservation in Action
Centred in the village of Andavadoaka where Blue Ventures first established field operations in Madagascar in 2003, the Velondriake Locally Managed Marine Area (LMMA) grew organically out of the cooperation between coastal communities, Blue Ventures, the Wildlife Conservation Society and surrounding. Conservation management efforts began in 2004, with pilot temporary closures of the local octopus fishery, the region's most important livelihood. The success of these pilot fishery closures inspired the formation of the Velondriake Association, uniting communities from Andavadoaka and the 23 surrounding villages, and banning the use of destructive fishing practices throughout 750 square kilometres of coast and ocean. Since then Velondriake's local management association has established a number of permanent marine reserve safeguarding coral reefs, seagrass beds and mangrove forests, as well as several coastal sites for sustainable community-based aquaculture.
Located just south of Velondriake and based around the village of Ambatomilo, Manjaboaka is an LMMA that is fast following in the footsteps of its northern neighbour, Velondriake. Since 2010, 4 villages in the area have been establishing temporary fishery closures and working to reduce the use of destructive fishing techniques.
On the northern side of Velondriake lie several small villages and the large town of Morombe. Fishers from these areas have historically migrated into Velondriake, often using destructive fishing gears and sometimes poaching in the closed areas. Blue Ventures has been working in the area since 2010 to address these issues by supporting the development of Teariake, a new LMMA centred in Morombe. The local management association adopted the name 'Teariake', which means 'to love the sea', and has begun establishing temporary fishery closures and educational outreach activities to raise awareness of the threats of destructive fishing. Establishing an LMMA in an urban setting such as Morombe, as opposed to a remote rural village, presents its own unique challenges, particularly as a result of the erosion of traditional power structures. Blue Ventures is working with the Teariake Association to develop new communications and outreach strategies to overcome these challenges.
In Belo-sur-Mer, Blue Ventures is working with Madagascar's national parks service to establish a marine extension to the existing terrestrial Kirindy-Mite national park. This partnership has engaged local fishing communities in the marine protected area establishment process, focusing support on community-based management initiatives. With extensive mangrove forests, much of the traditional fishing is focused on crab, shrimp and mangrove-associated fish species. 2011 saw the area's first community management action: the closure of three mangrove reserves around the villages of Belo-sur-Mer and Antanimanimbo. This process was spearheaded by the local association Be Andriaky, meaning 'to grow up with the sea', and following the success of these initial closures, reserves have been replicated and established in villages further north of Belo.
The Barren Isles archipelago
Located between 15 and 80 kilometres offshore, the remote Barren Isles and their surrounding fringing reefs and seagrass beds have been identified as a regional conservation priority area, and have, until recently, been relatively unexploited by humans. Beginning in the 1990s, traditional migrant fishers originating from southwest Madagascar began targeting the region's abundant populations of sharks, sea cucumbers, and pelagic fish. This migration has led to conflicts with local fishers, who have long considered the islands to be sacred places not meant for habitation. In addition to this growing annual migration of traditional fishers, the area is also now frequented by teams of semi-industrial sea cucumber fishers using scuba equipment to illegally harvest dwindling stocks of these species. Under the weight of these increasing pressures, the once pristine marine environments of the Barren Isles are beginning to show signs of decline. Blue Ventures is working with the regional government, private sector companies, and local and migrant fisher communities to develop a collaborative co-management system with the goal of establishing a nationally-recognised protected area around the islands by 2015.
Blue Ventures is now focusing on scaling-up community-based conservation activities at national and international levels across the Indian Ocean region, including the development of a LMMA network for Madagascar to encourage peer-to-peer learning.
- Please click here to visit our news page where you can view the latest updates on our LMMA work
- The Blue Ventures blog contains many interesting articles by staff, volunteers and researchers please use this link: http://blog.blueventures.org/
This short film documents Madagascar's first national LMMA forum, hosted by Blue Ventures in 2012
LMMAs are evolving as an exciting new approach to coastal management in Madagascar and the Western Indian Ocean-- currently more than 50 LMMAs exist in the region, compared to only 5 in 2005. The LMMA movement is shifting the paradigm away from traditional top-down management where national governments are the sole resource managers and rule makers.
By sharing experiences and lessons learned, communities can learn from each other more quickly than from formal training or trial by error. Blue Ventures is working to develop a formal network of communities engaged in marine management from throughout Madagascar. BV hopes that by linking these communities together, they will develop faster, adapt better to challenges, and have a stronger voice in regional and national decision-making.
Blue Ventures aims to support the LMMA movement in Madagascar by fostering connections and long-term relationships between Madagascar's 36 LMMAs. Through exchange trips, participatory video exchanges, telephone trees, and an annual forum, a learning network will be established and continually reinforced, enabling the LMMA approach to spread more quickly throughout Madagascar. At the same time, BV will continue to encourage international connections with LMMAs around the Indian Ocean. An informal network of LMMAs, LMMA experts, and support organisations is under development in order to scale up LMMA approaches, information sharing and strategies across the region.
Blue Ventures also works to connect LMMA leaders from around the world and recently hosted a LMMA workshop at the 2012 International Union for Conservation of Nature's World Conservation Congress in South Korea. The workshop, titled "Locally Managed Marine Areas: Towards A Global Learning Network", was hosted in conjunction with CORDIO, a coral research non-profit, the LMMA Network, and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) World Conservation Monitoring Centre. The event brought 16 LMMA leaders together from around the globe to showcase innovative, community-based marine management techniques. These community leaders hailed from countries such as Fiji, Kenya, Madagascar, Vietnam, Papua New Guinea and India. They discussed cost-effective and proven ways to tackle common conservation challenges faced by coastal communities. The event enabled representatives from LMMAs and regional LMMA networks to connect in person and provided vital linkages for ongoing communication amongst LMMA communities worldwide.
LMMAs in Action
Celebrating a new LMMA
The Teariake ("Love the Sea") Association in Morombe is taking a page from their neighbours to the south, Velondriake, in setting up their own LMMA. With support from Velondriake, Teariake is establishing a system of temporary and permanent coastal and marine reserves designed to protect and sustainably manage the resources the community relies on for its livelihood. This short film shows events from Teariake's festival in Morombe, where they organized football matches, boat races, concerts, speeches, and public awareness activities to celebrate its new reserves and new conservation legislation. The festival's theme was "Andao Fa Lera! Vezo Miara Miasa!" -- Let's go, it's time! Vezo Working Together! Watch here to see how Teariake is moving forward with its community conservation efforts.
Number of LMMAs in Madagascar 1998-2012
Be Andriaky Mangrove Reserve
Just over 300 km north of Andavadoaka, Blue Ventures is working with the people of Belo-sur-Mer to further expand the Velondriake model of community-based natural resource management. In November of 2011, the Be Andriaky Committee held the first opening of its pilot mangrove reserves, after a four-month experimental closure designed to allow crab populations to recuperate. The reserve opening was a success, leaving the community enthusiastic to close the reserve again and strengthen its community-based management structure. Watch the film below to see and hear the excitement of the much-awaited opening day.