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The impact of COVID-19 on Blue Ventures expeditions
Updated July 2020 

Around the world, individuals, families and communities are rallying to face the COVID-19 pandemic. From Belize to Madagascar to Timor-Leste, Blue Ventures’ own mission and operations are being shaken by this unprecedented disruption.

Our priority during this challenging period has been taking all necessary steps to protect the safety and well-being of our expedition volunteers, staff, and the host communities we strive to support.

We have been closely following advice from the World Health Organization (WHO), Public Health England (PHE), the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) and The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and have made the difficult decision to cancel all our marine conservation expeditions until it is safe to consider returning international volunteers to our host communities.

We are doing all we can to mitigate the impact this has had on our operations and are committed to returning stronger when the time is right. We appreciate your understanding and support during this time.

What does this mean for the future of Blue Ventures’ expeditions programme?

As a UK-based international tour operator, Blue Ventures (Expeditions) Ltd is unable to take further expedition bookings until the UK Government’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) guidance against overseas travel for UK citizens is removed. Recommencement of business will then take place subject to country-specific travel and public health guidance, as well as adequate logistical and insurance cover for our operations to proceed safely.

These are unprecedented times for conservation volunteering and there will undoubtedly be further challenges ahead. We are monitoring the situation continuously and will update available information regularly. We remain committed to weathering this storm and using this time to strengthen our wider programmes and adapting our conservation ecotourism model to ensure its future success when the time is right.

When are the expeditions likely to be back up and running?

We are not currently able to offer an accurate timeline on when this might be but this is now unlikely to be in 2020.

Our expeditions will now enter a period of reflection and strategic planning but we will endeavour to keep everyone updated with our progress across our social media channels and here on our website. 

You can still register your interest for future expeditions below and we’ll email updates as and when we have them. Your support will be integral to rebuilding our conservation volunteering programme when the time is right. 

What does this mean for volunteers currently signed up to an expedition?

All volunteers booked on upcoming expeditions have been contacted individually and we would like to thank everyone for their understanding and patience through this process.

What effect will this have on Blue Ventures conservation work and the coastal communities we support?

Despite the immense scale of the challenge, the BV family has navigated turbulent times before, from devastating cyclones and infectious outbreaks to prolonged political unrest and conflict. For nearly two decades we’ve worked to increase the resilience of vulnerable coastal communities, many of whom live in precarious conditions lacking access to basic services and reliant on fishing for survival. We have learnt that by listening to communities and offering our expertise to co-design practical locally led solutions, we can help them to overcome these challenges.

With field teams living and working alongside under-served communities throughout the coastal tropics, we’re fortunate to be in a frontline position to respond to this new challenge and find ways to support these communities. We’re humbled that our staff and partners in hundreds of communities across 14 countries are mobilising to use their expertise to meet and overcome the current crisis. 

We will all have our way of life profoundly changed by this pandemic. For those who live on the frontline of other crises −  climate breakdown and the depletion of fisheries upon which their livelihoods depend − this global pandemic is yet another shock. It reminds us all why we must take action to cooperate at local and global scales to tackle the issues that make marginalised coastal communities amongst the most vulnerable on the planet.

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