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Marine turtle festival spreads conservation message in Velondriake

Velondriake, Madagascar 27th - 28th May 2011. A marine turtle festival, a social marketing campaign to raise awareness of marine turtle biology and conservation, started in the Velondriake Locally Managed Marine Area (LMMA) this week. The festival forms part of Blue Ventures’ social marketing strategy, and follows on from the successful ‘Vezo Aho’ (I am Vezo) campaign in 2010 to combat the use of destructive fishing methods within the region.

In southwest Madagascar fishing for marine turtles is a traditional activity, and therefore continues despite being illegal. However, increases in coastal populations and the degradation of the traditional fady (taboos) that should be observed when hunting turtles, has led fishers to use more effective turtle fishing methods which allow for greater exploitation. At the national marine turtle workshop in Antananarivo in February 2010 the continued overfishing for turtles was highlighted as one of the greatest threats to turtle populations in Malagasy waters.

The slogan for this campaign ‘Fano Lany, Vezo Manegny’ (If turtles run out, the Vezo will regret) has been designed to compliment the 2010 Vezo Aho campaign by encouraging the community to be proud of their Vezo identity and heritage, and to consider its preservation for future generations. Campaign materials and activities, including a theatre production, songs, presentations, films, t-shirts and stickers all carry the same slogan, and target both the adults and children of Velondriake.


The Velondriake Turtle Mascot captivates the audience

Thomas, Blue Ventures’ campaign manager and a member of the Velondriake community says, “This turtle festival is important for the community because it helps them to understand the lifecycle of the turtle. It’s really important because it helps to change the communities’ attitude towards conserving turtles.” He added, “In Velondriake people know that a lot of turtles are caught but that there is very little nesting.” After the first two days of the campaign Thomas noted, “The word about the turtle festival has already spread, even to inland villages, people are continually asking me if they can wear our t-shirts to spread the message to their village too!”

The campaign will run for two weeks and visit five villages in the Velondriake region. It is hoped that the campaign can be replicated throughout villages in southwest Madagascar later this year.