Our In Focus series shines a light on some of the businesses operating from our centres to introduce their teams and share some recent projects.
BSW – Hi Steve, Blue Ventures sounds like an amazing organisation, what can you tell us about it?
BV – We work with some of the poorest coastal communities in the tropics to help them generate a more consistent and sustainable income from fisheries.
The decline of fish stocks is a critical problem worldwide, but especially for the fishermen and women along the isolated Madagascan coastline who depend wholly on the sea for their income.
These people have the most to gain from good fisheries management, but often lack the time, money or training to put it into practice. So we work with communities to find solutions that would help marine life recover while also providing practical benefits and financial dividends for fishing communities.
BSW – So do you work directly with the communities?
BV – Yes, absolutely. Back in 2003, the Blue Ventures team (set up by marine biologist, Alasdair Harris) worked with a fishing community to set up a trial in a remote corner of southwest Madagascar. They cordoned off a small octopus fishing area for a short period to see if it would boost productivity. When it reopened, the community saw a dramatic increase in octopus landings and, subsequently, their own income.
That initial success was the catalyst for a revolution in marine management along Madagascar’s coastline, and as word spread we’ve been working with more villages and partner organisations to help them implement similar systems. We provide support and training, but the local community has full responsibility for mapping out and managing their reserve so they feel empowered to invest in their own future.
BSW – Are you still working in Madagascar?
BV – Yes, since 2003 our Madagascar operations have expanded, and we now have five conservation sites. More recently we have launched community conservation programmes in Belize and Timor-Leste. I should also mention we run highly successful diving expedition programmes in each of these countries, for volunteers wishing to contribute to marine conservation.
Finally, we are supporting partner organisations and coastal communities in East Africa, the Western Indian Ocean and Southeast Asia (Coral Triangle) to adapt and implement our marine conservation approach.
BSW – That’s a long way from Bristol!
BV – Yes, our UK team is spread in different locations too. We have an office in London and a team here in Bristol. We’re based upstairs in The Old Library and have just taken on a new downstairs office too – there can be around 20 of us in Bristol on a busy day. I’m in the digital communications team, and some of us work remotely around the country and others are based in Madagascar and Indonesia!
BSW – What does your role at Blue Ventures entail?
BV – As Digital Manager, I help make sure our team is connected – like you said, it’s a big team based in some very remote locations which can make for some interesting challenges.
I’m also responsible for our websites and online platforms, keeping these updated and secure so we can spread the word about Blue Ventures’ projects and keep our funders informed. The wider digital communications team handles our content, social media, graphic design, videos and blogs, which are really important for getting the message out there.
You can follow our blog here: https://blog.blueventures.org and learn more about our work in a video here: https://blueventures.org/conservation/approach/catalysing-conservation
Thanks for talking to us, Steve. To find out more about Blue Ventures, visit their website https://blueventures.org