Developing world leads the way in protecting oceans

London, 5th June 2009 – World Oceans Day, on the 8th June 2009, will see leading conservation organisations, educational institutions, communities and individuals in dozens of countries around the world celebrating the world’s oceans.

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Blue Ventures Conservation, a British Conservation NGO, and the Vezo people of the communities of the Velondriake marine protected area in southwest Madagascar wish to mark World Oceans Day 2009 by calling upon the fishing communities and governments of the developed world to follow their lead and protect dwindling marine resources for future generations.

The marine environment in Madagascar is threatened by climate change and unsustainable fishing practices. Since 2004 remote Vezo fishing communities in Madagascar have been working with Blue Ventures and other International NGOs to find ways to protect and manage the ocean that they have relied upon for generations for income, food and their cultural identity.

The extraordinary efforts of the Vezo to protect threatened marine resources have culminated in the creation of the Velondriake network of community run protected areas. Velondriake – a local Malagasy word meaning “to live with the sea” – spans 800-square kilometres, benefits more than 8,500 impoverished people and protects coral reefs, mangroves, seagrass beds and other threatened habitats.

The majorities of the people in these communities live on less than $2 per day, which the United Nations defines as living in poverty, and face a continuous struggle to provide food, fuel and other necessities for their families. Despite the everyday hardships of these Vezo communities they are committed to protecting their oceans for future generations when the continuation of unsustainable fishing practices would give them higher incomes in the short-term.

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These Vezo communities are leading the way in managing the oceans, using a combination of powerful management strategies such as community-enforced no-take-zones, widespread consultation, education programmes and development of alternative livelihoods.  Blue Ventures believes that their example can show fishing communities in the developed world what can be achieved when communities work together for a common purpose, but most importantly when communities are prepared to make short-term sacrifices to protect the marine environment and in return achieve a long-term gain for the oceans and those who rely upon them.

The efforts and sacrifices of the Vezo people and communities to protect their ocean has received international recognition from:

The United Nations SEED Award in 2005.
The United Nations Development Programme Equator Prize in 2007.
The J Paul Getty Award for Conservation Leadership in 2008.

 

Further information:

Blue Ventures (www.blueventures.org)
An award winning not-for-profit dedicated to working with local communities in Madagascar to conserve threatened marine habitats and resources for the betterment of people and nature. Funded almost entirely through ecotourism revenue, Blue Ventures brings paying volunteers to project sites and trains them in scientific research, community outreach and on-the-ground conservation.

Velondriake (www.livewiththesea.org)
Velondriake, which means, “to live with the sea” in Vezo, is the largest network of community-run marine protected zones in the western Indian Ocean.

United Nations (World Oceans Day)
The United Nations General Assembly has designated the 8th June 2009 as the inaugural World Oceans Day.