Tampolove is a coastal village in the Bay of Assassins, southwest Madagascar, and part of the Velondriake Locally Managed Marine Area. The livelihoods and food security of the Tampolove community rely on their marine resources, which are facing unprecedented pressures from overfishing and climate change. In 2009 Blue Ventures supported the Tampolove community to establish community-based sea cucumber aquaculture as an alternative income generation activity.
The pioneering development of this aquaculture initiative in Madagascar has not come without several steep learning curves for all partners involved. Over the subsequent years, devastating cyclones and disease outbreaks, theft of sea cucumbers, hatchery shortages and over-stocking of the farming enclosures has resulted in lower than expected profits for the farmers involved. Blue Ventures and the farmers from the Tampolove community have learnt many hard lessons during the development of this novel enterprise, but each setback has also been an opportunity to further refine our methods and systems, working to ensure increasing profitability, and therefore the continued viability and sustainability of this livelihood.
Following particularly damaging cyclones and disease outbreaks in 2014 and 2015, the entire sea cucumber model was redesigned, with a new pen design established in a more space efficient and durable structure. Importantly, a new security watchtower was constructed to help farmers protect their stock. Farmers, Blue Ventures and the Velondriake Association worked closely together to design a new management system: a farmer-led association that utilises contractual agreements to ensure the work required by farmers is clearly understood and rewarded. This new system ensures that all operational costs incurred in the model are covered by farmers incomes before profits are taken, essential to ensure long term economic viability of the model.
After 3 years of construction and deliberation, on 31 January 2018, the new pens were ready for the stocking of sea cucumber juveniles, provided by Indian Ocean Trepang. After a five hour boat-journey to Tampolove from Toliara with over 6000 juveniles safely packed on board, the 41 new farmer pens were stocked with their monthly delivery of 150 sea cucumber juveniles each.
Everything went ahead as planned, with all the community farmers following good acclimatisation practices to ensure that the juveniles were not shocked by any sudden changes in temperature, salinity or pH while introducing them to the new surrounding waters.
Once back on shore, the farmer gave thanks to their ancestors in a traditional fomba ceremony, and speeches and blessings were given by local authorities including the mayor of Morombe, the Velondriake Association, and the newly elected Zanga Management Committee Supervisors (zanga is the Vezo word for sea cucumber).
Congratulations to everyone involved in making this special day a reality, it has been a long time coming! We now look forward to the end of this year, and the first sea cucumber harvests in Tampolove.
For more information, contact National Aquaculture Programme Lead Tim Klückow
Learn more about the construction of Tampolove’s new security watchtower
Cover photo: Tim Klückow
The BV aquaculture programme and team would like to sincerely thank and acknowledge our principal partner Norges Vel for their contributions to the development of the community-based sea cucumber farming model.
Many thanks to our commercial partner Indian Ocean Trepang, and thanks to FAO Tanzania, Korea International Cooperation Agency and the Government of Zanzibar for supporting this learning exchange, and thanks to NORAD for supporting our aquaculture work.
Blue Ventures benefited from the support of the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation www.fpa2.org, in collaboration with the University of Edinburgh.