Wednesday, October 26, 2005

It's the Taking Part That Counts

On Sunday, Blue Ventures again put out both a men’s and a women’s football team to play against the Andavadoaka teams. There was a somewhat unsurprising outcome as both of our teams were beaten. They did however put on a good performance, the woman's team only lost 1-0!
Next weekend sees a volleyball match as we try to diversify into other sports!

Bye Bye Josephine

On 20th October those at the site said goodbye to social science research coordinator Joseohine Langley who has left Andavadoaka after 11 months. She single handedly building up the Blue Ventures social science research programme, which is now in the hands of our current social scientist Minna.

It's All in the Bilo

On Wednesday 19th October Blue Ventures staff and volunteers took zebu carts on a 1 to 2 hour journey inland to the Maskoru village of Ankilimelinike where they particitpated in a Bilo ceremony. This was the penultimate day of a 10 day ceremony and there was much dancing and singing to a band of local musicians playing accordians, a type of guitar and drums. It was a fascinating insight into life in a
Masikoro village and a traditional fomba which everyone felt honoured to be invited.

More Marine Action Plans

Following the blog about EU marine conservation strategy, we now have information about UN based strategy International scientists are making plans to create a network of marine parks in order to save the world’s oceans from fish stock depletion. This plan, supported by the World Conservation Union (IUCN) will be produced in 2008 in order to be implemented by 2012.

There are currently 100s of marine protected areas have been set up in the past 15-20 years. Of the 17 largest with most conservation potential, 15 are already at maximum exploitation levels or are depleting the level of their fish resource base. Scientists say new parks plan would strengthen the base of marine conservation, for example by preventing the over fishing that can decrease coral cover or deplete fish populations important for the coral reef ecosystem. The network would require a co-ordinated global effort, which would elevate the status of marine conservation.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Strategy That Could Effect Us All

As dedicated marine conservationists, we always have our eyes peeled for a good and informative site. This is a goody that we’ve found about marine environmental strategy to be implimented to protect all EU marine waters. The strategy is different from previous ones in that it takes an ecosystem level approach to address the pressures on marine flora and fauna. It aims to make the EU waters environmentally healthy by 2021, so that people can enjoy them, whilst maintining a high level of protection of the marine environment.
To find out more information about this topic, which they have handily
divided into Q&A sections, click here.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Camping Trip

Expedition members went on a camping trip to the Northern beaches where they enjoyed a joint celebration of 4 different expedition birthdays - Amelia, Charlie, Bex and Tracy. A great night was had by all, with a demonstration of wilderness medicine from the camp medic, followed by a delicious dinner cooked on an open fire and sleeping out under the full moon.

Continuing Education

A record number of children attended the English teaching class last Wednesday - 66 pupils were in the beginners class where they werer taught how to say the time in English (first they had to be taught how to tell the time).
The advanced group created posters for the beach clean up, the best of which got displayed on the BV notice board.
A group of adults also received personal tuition.

Life's a Beach

On Saturday 15th with Blue Ventures staff and volunteers carried out a beach clean up of Andavadoaka beach. The event started at 3pm with the digging of a new burn pit in the north of the village. The site for the new burn pit was chosen in consultation with the village president, with the aim of creating a pit which would be easy for people to access so as to encourage the regular disposal of rubbish here. After the pit had been dug out (a tough job in the afternoon heat) volunteers and staff joined around 100 young people from Andavadoaka to collect everything from plastic bottles to fishing nets, flip flops to old clothes and a lot of other waste from the beach in rice sacks. The rubbish was then deposited in the pit and burned as this was deemed by BV as the best available waste management system for Andavadoaka at present.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

That'll Teach 'Em

Continuing with local education, two volunteers have been helping out with French and Maths lessons in the Catholic Mission school.

It's in Their Hands

A team from Blue Ventures and Wildlife Conservation Society have travelled to Nosy Ve to talk to the inhabitants about the idea of creating an octopus reserve and update them on recent decisions in Lamboara and Andavadoaka.
It is greatly encouraging that in light of what happened at the Andavadoaka MPA they were met with a positive response as the people were interested in creating their own reserve.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

It Was This Big

Catch monitoring continues in Andavadoaka.

It's Just Not Cricket!

Blue Ventures staff and volunteers were out in force on Sunday 9th October as they donned their ‘football boots’ for Blue Ventures versus Veso male and female football matches. The matches were a village event and a large crowd gathered to cheer on both teams.

Our ladies made up a full team and put in a fine performance; managing to only lose 1:0. Following this ‘success’ it was the men’s turn: at ½ time the men were losing 2:0 however they ended victorious (by default) as it was claimed that the Andavadoaka team did not want to continue play as the ball was not sufficiently inflated. Confirmation of this version of events is yet to happen!

Clean up your act

Plans are currently underway for a beach clean up following the success of the last one in June, 2005.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Research This!

The Blue Ventures have been tirelessly working towards producing the new Research Update to present the findings from the re-opening of the Nosy Fasy no-take zone. We are pleased to announce that it is finished. Check it out by clicking here.

Monday, October 10, 2005

As an aside:

Friends of ours have recently set up the following website, so that you can find out which bank is the bestest. Have a look!

Here's a great new website we’ve been using recently It allows you to get a comprehensive view of what there is to offer in the fantastic country that is Madagascar. Check it out and maybe it’ll persuade you, if you haven’t been already, to get yourself involved in your own bit of responsible travel, or alternatively some expedition work.

It's fin-ished!

Another big step has been taken in the fight for protection of sharks. The North Atlantic Fisheries Organisation (NAFO) has recently placed a ban on shark finning. This will apply with immediate effect to all ground fish and shrimp trawl fisheries in the northwest Atlantic Ocean. This is much-needed progress, however there is still no limit or quota imposed on shark fisheries, so further research is desperately needed to expand data collection for shark fisheries in order to develop management plans to promote the sustainability of the fishery. Click here for more information.

Friday, October 07, 2005

The Vaccinators

Some of the volunteers plus the Blue Ventures Doctor have been helping the village doctor Joseph and a team of vaccinators with a polio vaccination campaign (funded by UNICEF and other NGOs) which has involved vaccinating all children under five years in Andavadoaka and surrounding villages.

The volunteers found this an enormously rewarding and educational experience where they not only got to interact with people in the village and get an insight into their lives but also felt they were contributing in a positive way. The village doctor and the rest of the team includign a UNICEF representative were grateful to Blue Ventures for the help they received.

Name That Tuna

The European Union is funding a project that takes an exciting step in the direction of sustainable tuna fishing. Tuna stocks are rapidly depleting at present owing to overfishing. In a new scheme, costing around $10 million approximately 80 000 tuna in the Indian Ocean are being tagged. A $10 reward is then given to any fisherman who hands over a tagged fish to local scientists and the fish is returned to the fisherman. This is a kind of pre-emptive strike owing to the fact that currently 20 times more tuna are caught today than they were 50 years ago and if no action is taken it won’t be long until they disappear altogether.

Net Again!

Irish, British and Norwegian marine experts have reported that Spanish fisherman are devastating the number of deep-water sharks in the northeast Atlantic. This is due to unregulated fishing techniques that will often involve trawlers leaving nets unattended for weeks, in an attempt to maximise profits. However the outcome is that half of the catches are left to rot, causing needless waste. Trawlers have also been known to dump nets that are damaged, which can lead to sea life being ensnared on the seabed, with no way of escaping. An Irish Sea Fisheries Board vessel went trawling for these abandoned nets and found 25 miles of nets, each of which averaged about 100 yards in length.

The problem lies in the fact that what these fishermen are doing is not in fact illegal. EU regulations presently do not have tight enough restrictions to prevent this method of fishing from being employed.

This is a situation that that needs to be acted on…

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Giants of the Sea

With news just in from site - a giant grouper was seen at Dos de Baleine today, it was at least 2.5m maybe 3m.

A monster!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Keep Fin Eat Soup!

New laws have been introduced in Egypt following increased pressure and lobbying from the Red Sea Governorate and HEPCA (Hurghada Environmental Protection and Conservation Association) that officially ban and criminalize shark fishing and trading.

Divers and conservationists noticed that since 2000, shark numbers were decreasing, due to a wave of commercial fishing coupled with increasing demand for exotic seafood dishes such as shark fin soup.

Like the whale shark however, this is another example of how tourism pressures can be advantageous for conservation. In the Red Sea tourists spend vast quantities just to see the sharks, it has been estimated that each shark in the Red Sea generates £10 000 income to Egypt. A pretty good reason to protect them!

This is an exciting step forward for conservation in the Red Sea.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Into the deep.....

The deep-sea environment is an area that has previously been thought of as a barren landscape, containing few life forms, is now being recognised to be the habitat for as many as 10 million species, some of which form coral reefs and forests that are not dissimilar to the trademark coral reefs of the shallows. Sadly however, the only people who are accessing these deep-sea paradises are those on the bottom trawlers carrying heavy nets, chains and rollers that indiscriminately crush everything in their path. The good news is that 1,136 scientists from 69 countries have united to form the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition, which is calling for a short-term moratorium on deep-sea bottom trawling in deep seas. This suspension of activity will provide these vulnerable ecosystems immediate protection whilst an effective, legally binding management strategy can be employed.

Recent reports have demonstrated that technological advancement can also be put to positive effect. Scientists have used high-tech electronic tags on whale sharks, which have shown that the sharks are diving to incredible depths of just under 1km in the search for food – much deeper than previously estimated. This tagging system can be used by tourist companies, alongside scientists, who can use the information of the sharks whereabouts for boat tours. The whale shark is sadly another species hunted for its fins and is now listed as “vulnerable” on the IUCN, the World Conservation Union, Red List of threatened species. However, through the inclusion of the tourist industry, which has a vested interest in maintaining shark populations to generate much needed revenue, further pressure can be placed protecting this species.