Marine turtle festival spreads up the west coast of Madagascar

15 December 2011, Madagascar. Blue Ventures has built on their marine turtle fishery and conservation programme as their awareness-raising marine turtle festival has expanded 400 km northwards along the west coast of Madagascar.

Having lead a successful turtle campaign tour of Velondriake (a locally managed marine area in south west Madagascar) earlier this year, the Blue Ventures team has now run social marketing campaigns in two further regions, the towns of Belo-Sur-Mer and Maintirano.

Although illegal in Madagascar, fishing for turtles is a traditional activity for the coastal communities in much of the country and as a result the practise continues despite fisheries legislation. The Fano lany Vezo manegny (If turtles run out, the Vezo will regret it) promotion builds on Vezo pride in their cultural identity and heritage and encourages communities to think about the preservation of their culture for future generations.

The festival combines radio and film presentations, workshops and competitions to raise awareness on marine turtle biology and conservation, and to promote community-led management. The festivals attracted 1000s of adults and children; and local management committees in both regions have discussed ways in which illegal fishing for turtles could be curtailed. The festival in Maintirano hopes to build on previous and ongoing community outreach efforts in the region by Geraud Leroux (Museum Geneve) and Audrey Campillo (Association Caouanne).

100 0486-1 The Blue Ventures' team talk to the huge crowd about the importance of turtles and prepares for some games!

Thomas, Blue Ventures' campaign manager and an ex Vezo fisherman, said, "Developing the turtle festival has been great. I think what we are teaching will help all people to reconsider their actions not only the Vezo who are catching the turtles but also those who buy, sell and eat turtle meat, this festival is for everyone!" The President of the community management association, Melaky Miaro ny Tontolo Andriake (MMTD), in Maintirano, commented, ""Even though I am Vezo and have lived by the sea my whole life I have learned many things from the turtle festival here in Maintirano. Having a Vezo who understands so much about the marine environment explain everything for us in our own language means that we all understand and learn together."

IMG 1413 The now famous Blue Ventures' turtle adds the fun to learning


Editors notes:

Blue Ventures is an award-winning marine conservation organisation dedicated to conservation, education and sustainable development in tropical coastal communities. Through our marine expeditions, volunteers from around the world join us on career breaks, student gap years and internships, working closely with our field research teams, in partnership with local communities. 

Blue Ventures' projects are focused in environmentally and culturally sensitive regions of the world. All project visitors are required to be aware that we are privileged guests in our host countries, towns and villages. We insist that all team members, acting as ambassadors to Blue Ventures, adapt their behaviour to recognise local cultural sensitivities. We have a responsibility to minimise negative impacts on local environments and communities where we work, as well as to provide tangible benefits to our host communities.

To find out more about Blue Ventures Expeditions visit our volunteer pages on our website.


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