Blue Ventures: Still Winning Awards
Blue Ventures is one marine conservation organisation finding it hard to keep a low profile. Their work in Madagascar has been recognised by the Responsible Travel Awards three times – “Best in a Marine Environment” (2004), “Best Volunteering Organisation” (2006), “Best in a Marine Environment” (2007) – and they are up again this year. They won the “General Countryside” category in the 2006 Skål International Eco-tourism Awards, a United Nations SEED Award (UNDP, UNEP, IUCN) in 2005 and the prestigious Equator Prize (United Nations Development Programme) in 2007. Enterprising Young Brits recognised their work in 2005 and 2006.
Most recently their work was acknowledged by the Ashoka and National Geographic Geotourism Challenge in which they were Finalists and the prestigious Getty Award “The Nobel Prize for Conservation” was awarded to Mr. Roger Samba this month, President of the Velondriake Committee. Roger Samba is president of the remote village of Andavadoaka in southwest Madagascar where Blue Ventures are based, and with no background in conservation organized the world’s first community run no-take zone for octopus, a local species of critical economic importance to the community, drove legislation on this and other laws to benefit the environment. Over the last three years the pilot conservation project for octopus has evolved into an 800 square kilometre community-managed protected area known as Velondriake. It now encompasses 24 villages around Andavadoaka and is one of the most ambitious locally-managed coastal conservation initiatives in the Indian Ocean, incorporating coral reefs, mangroves and seagrass beds along 50km of coastline.
Alasdair Harris, director of scientific research at Blue Ventures said:
“Under Samba’s leadership the Andavadoaka project proved so successful that eight neighbouring villages instituted their own protected areas for octopus in order to reap similar benefits. The national government of Madagascar in 2005 also used the project as a model to create similar seasonal closures across the country. The project is a proven example of how economic development can both inspire and benefit from the conservation of natural resources.”
Samba will use his award to establish fellowships for students pursuing masters, doctoral, and post-doctoral degrees in conservation-related fields at a university of his choice in Madagascar.
Blue Ventures is currently expanding its work in southern Madagascar with an ambitious African Development Bank-funded project that aims to develop over 50 locally-managed marine reserves along more than 300km of coast over five years.
For information on volunteer opportunities with Blue Ventures please visit their expeditions section.
Blue Ventures Press Releases:
- First hatching of Green Turtles recorded in southwest Madagascar as a direct result of conservation efforts.
- Rapid expansion of locally-managed marine conservation in Madagascar.