Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Better Late than Never - an Onsite Field Update

BV played Football against the village on Sunday. Men lost 2:1, Women lost 2:1. We are closing the gap. Victory is within our reach, so watch this space…again!

Two bird experts from Bath University visited the site to catalogue the species of birds found here. Amongst other things they discovered an unusually high population of the threatened Madagascar Plover – possibly the best population in Madagacsar and they are keen to do more research into the numbers.

We also have a team of world renowned experts currently visiting the site including Gerry Allen author of Indo-Pacific Coral Reef Field Guide and Doug Fenner who are studying and cataloguing marine biodiversity. They are finding exciting things every day.

The nearby village Lamboara carried out their fomba ceremony yesterday for the closure of their octopus reserve on 1st December. A team from BV and WCS attended to assist with the ceremony and meet with the village. We will continue to keep you updated with how this is closure progresses.

Organisations Unite

Several international organisations (United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), UN Foundation, International Coral Reef Action Network (ICRAN) and Conservation International (CI)) have joined forces with WWF to provide funding for the conservation of Mozambique’s unique marine habitat and wildlife in and around the country's Primeiras and Segundas Islands. The new partnership will complement the efforts of the government of Mozambique in implementing an integrated development plan for the region's marine and coastal resources. This will include working with locals on sustainable fish and prawn management, and promoting tourism development in the region.

Montreal climate talks hold key to saving the world’s coral reefs

Blue Ventures has been represented in Canada this week during the writing of the United Nations’ Youth Declaration on Climate Change.

Governments from 190 countries are meeting in Montreal, Quebec, for the United Nations Climate Negotiations, which hold the key to future action on tackling emissions of greenhouse gases and stabilizing the world’s climate.

The negotiations take place against a backdrop of mounting evidence that climate change is already happening around the globe. The 10 hottest years on record globally have occurred since 1991, and in that same period global sea levels have risen by around 20cm. Global warming represents one of the most significant threats to marine environments and coral reefs worldwide.

Blue Ventures is committed to raising awareness of the causal link between global warming and coral reef bleaching, a phenomenon which has been responsible for causing unprecedented levels of coral reef degradation throughout the world’s tropics and subtropics in recent years, and threatens the future survival of these critically important marine ecosystems. Effective global emissions reductions strategies will be fundamental to the survival of coral reefs – as well as many other vulnerable habitats around the world – in the face of global warming and other manifestations of climate change.

During the climate talks, the first meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol – those countries which have signed up to the international treaty to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the period 2008-20012, Alasdair Harris from Blue Ventures represented the United Kingdom in a global youth Delegation calling on governments to protect the earth from climate change.

“As youth, we have the right to shape the world we live in. We are already taking steps in our own lives and communities to realize our vision and we demand that our leaders do the same,” states the declaration issued by the Delegation.

At a high-level Ministerial session the Delegation called for minimum binding emissions reduction targets of 30% by 2020 and 80% by 2050 for developed countries; and implored governments for a just transition to a low-impact renewable energy future.

“We are the ones who are going to have to bare the brunt of climate change impacts,” says Jessica Thiessen, the founder of the Arctic Council Youth Network from the Yukon. “This Summit shows that youth everywhere are already involved in climate protection. We are doing our part and we ask governments at the UN Climate Change Conference to do theirs,” says Catherine Mulinde, a PhD student from Uganda.

Along with the rest of the world, Blue Ventures will watch the meetings in Montreal closely and hopes those in power will put aside their national agendas and finally force an end to global warming.

We urge you to take the time to read the Climate Change Declaration, which can be downloaded from the BV website here, and to distribute this important message as widely as possible.

Monday, November 28, 2005

More on the Effects of Climate Change

A report released this week by WWF ahead of a key Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol in Montreal, Canada, discusses the threats posed by climate change to the world’s marine and freshwater fish species. Entitled ‘Are we putting our fish in hot water’, the report details how rising water temperatures will lead to stunted growth levels due to insufficient food supplies. The knock on effect of this will be a reduction in birth rates.

To counteract the problems of rising temperatures fish will migrate to cooler waters seeking temperatures that are normal for their habitat. This will have devastating effects on species dependent on fish, as has already been demonstrated in the Gulf of Alaska when over 120 000 sea birds starved to death when fish migrated away from the warming waters in 1993.

The WWF is calling for countries to use the meeting in Montreal to start negotiations for more stringent cuts in CO2 emissions once the current commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol runs out in 2012.

To read the report, click here.

Monday, November 21, 2005

A Press Release You Might Find Interesting:

Chancellor Gordon Brown Announces Winners of the Enterprising Young Brits competition

Tom Savage and Alasdair Harris from London received Special Commendation in Social and Community category

Twenty-four finalists from across the UK gave presentations to the judges in a ‘X Factor’-style final this morning, as part of a flagship Enterprise Week event run by the Make Your Mark campaign.

Tom Savage and Alasdair Harris, both 26, set up Blue Ventures, a pioneering marine conservation and development organisation based in London and Madagascar, two years ago. In this time the company, which employs 20 members of staff has established one of the world’s remotest underwater research centres and hosted 180 international volunteers on 17 separate six-week expeditions.

The competition is part of the Make Your Mark – start talking ideas campaign and recognises young people who have turned their ideas into reality.

Chancellor Gordon Brown says; ‘All of the finalists are winners – they are creating new opportunities and advancing new ideas to create an enterprising society. You are showing that Britain is an enterprising economy.

‘Do not underestimate the power you have to encourage others – you are making your mark by showing that enterprise is changing the face of Britain.’

Kevin Steele, of the Make your Mark campaign and competition organiser, says, 'All of the finalists in today's Enterprising Young Brits competition are truly inspirational young people and we wish all of them well for future. On behalf of all the judges our congratulations go to the five winners James Murray Wells, Ali Clabburn, Calypso Rose, Oliver Bridge and Anna Cowley. I am sure we will be seeing a lot more of all of today’s finalists as their enterprises continue to flourish
and their stories will inspire many others to make their mark.'

Enterprise Week (14-20 November) is a national celebration of enterprise, with over 2,000 events taking place throughout the UK.

Anyone interested in finding out more about the Make Your Mark – start
talking ideas campaign and what is happening during Enterprise Week
should go to

Friday, November 18, 2005

What's Going on on Site

Much to the surprise of both staff and volunteers the first rain of the season fell in Andavadoaka on Tuesday. This meant that all activities had to be cancelled and everyone settled in to a Blue Planet marathon.

Andavadoaka’s locally run environmental club had their second meeting.

We would also like to welcome 2 Malagasy students who arrived in Andavadoaka to carry out some independent studies in association with IRD. BV will be collaborating with these students to maximise how useful their research is.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Malnutrition in Madagascar

A study conducted by the Ministry of Health, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and a number of local NGO’s has reported that malnutrition levels in Madagascar have reached up to 74% in some parts of the remote southeastern region of the country. This problem is predominantly related to poor food security, with households primarily dependent on farming, which therefore means their livelihoods are extremely vulnerable to climatic conditions. The remoteness and high transportation costs of many of the affected areas have made the delivery of food extremely difficult, aggravating the situation further. This must be overcome however, as aid is desperately needed to prevent further human losses from starvation.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Week 1 on the Blue Ventures Site

The 1st week of our November expedition has drawn to a close with a football match Blue Ventures against the Vezo. Again the women put on a good performance and hopes were even raised with a half time score of 2:1, however, a BV victory was not meant to be and the final score was a win to the Veso 3:2. The men also did well, but they lost.

Members of the new expedition were also introduced to Andavadoaka's president Mr Roger and the deputy president Mr Robiste as well as the joys of a drink in one of Andavadoakas epi bars.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Site News

Expedition 18 has arrived safely in Andavadoaka after a record fast 18 hour camion journey from Tulear. The two newest members of the BV team were also aboard the camion, Sage and Onion, Blue Ventures very own pair of turkeys who are being fattened up ready for Christmas dinner in Andavadoaka.

Thomas, who works for BV as our boat driver, has started his Open water training having done his first confined water session today. As a result, we would now like to welcome our new part time boat driver Marcellin.

A final note – Happy Birthday Elizabeth from the BV team.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Big Makis

The Malagasy rugby team, the Makis, celebrated their centenary last Saturday by beating the South African Amateur team. The game was tight but the Makis managed to clinch it with a 33-31 win. This victory took place in front of an impressive crowd of 40 000 in Antananarivo.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

The Japanese are Having a Whale of a Time

An article printed today stated that this time of year sees the Japanese whaling fleet of 6 ships setting of to carry out ‘scientific testing’ on 1000 whales in The Southern Ocean. This method of ‘testing’ involves harpooning the whale, measuring and whaling the dead whale and finally delivering it to market, sliced, diced, boxed and frozen ready to be sold.

In 1986 the International Whaling Commission (IWC) banned commercial whaling and in 1994 The Southern Ocean was declared a Whale Sanctury. However a loophole in this legislation means that every year the Fisheries Agency of Japan (FAJ) sends their whaling fleets into the protected areas. The IWC however, states that they do not need the data produced by the FAJ ‘research’. The FAJ claims, "according to Japanese cultural values whales are viewed as a food source." When the Japanes Asahi newspaper took an opinion poll in 2000 they reported that only 4% of the Japanese population regularly eat whale meat whereas 53% haven’t eaten it since childhood and a further 33% have never eaten the meat. These results to not provide a very convincing case for the death of 1000 whales a year.

Fiji Ups It's Game

Today Fiji’s Great Sea Reef launches the 1st in a network of 5 Marine Protected Areas (MPA), that, when completed will form one of the worlds largest underwater sanctuaries. Areas of these MPA’s will be known as ‘tabu’ zones where no fishing or harvesting of marine resources can take place.

Fiji’s Great Sea Reef is the 3rd longest barrier reef in the world. It has not been well studied, so the extent of its diversity is yet to be discovered. WWF conducted a 12 day survey, after which they reported there to be “a staggering array of life.” This survey also noted that there were significant threats to the Great Sea Reef from over-fishing and poaching by illegal fishers, poison fishing, sand dredging and other activities associated with a developing coastline.

Yesterday the Conservation Leadership Award was presented to Fiji’s government and the Fiji Locally Managed Marine Areas (FLMMA) network members to acknowledge the conservation effort and commitment to establishing the MPA network covering 30% of the country’s waters by 2020.

This is an encouraging development that could raise the profile of marine conservation.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Blue Ventures Loses it’s Short Holiday Cherry

Blue Ventures’ first foray into short diving holidays went without a hitch last week. The group of 12 enjoyed a weeks diving in the ecologically rich Red Sea off the coast of Dahab, also sampling the local cuisine and chilled out atmosphere. We visited some world famous dive sites, including the Blue Hole (yes, it is really that good!) and Canyons as well the little known but beautiful Gabr El Bint. Evenings were spent exploring the small town, and being romanced by the local Bedouin!

Wearing our responsible tourist hats, everyone was encouraged to think carefully about the effect of the tourism industry on the area and share their thoughts in informal discussion. It was disappointing to see the amount of rubbish in the desert and on the beaches, but discussions with local dive centres revealed that steps were being made to clean up the area. We were also informed that Egyptian authorities respond far better to opinions from outside Egypt, so BV has sent it’s impressions to the Egyptian tourist board.

Photos from the trip will soon be up on the web at this link to let those who were on the trip reminisce and to make those not on the trip jealous! We’d like to thank our dive guides at Poseidon Divers (Farmer and Vicky) and all the staff at the Coral Coast Hotel. It was great to see everyone on the trip, new and old friends alike, and we hope to see you again soon! For those who couldn’t make it, there’s always next time, just keep checking out our website!

Monday, November 07, 2005

Research memories from Andavadoaka

This is a message we received from Jon Galton, a student from Cambridge University who carried out research on Andavadoaka's artisanal fishery for his undergraduate research dissertation. After finishing his studies, Jon was traveling in inland Madagascar, some 500 miles from Andavadoaka, when he sent us the following note:

"I was wandering around a dried fish market in Fianarantsoa, generally minding my own business (and showing off my knowledge of Malagasy fish names!), when one of the fish-seller guys with a familiar face said to me “Salut camarade! Andavadoaka?” and I said “Oui!”. It transpired we’d met on one of my pirogue monitoring jaunts, when he’d come down to collect fish. I fired a list of names at him, and we remembered that he’d collected from Ngezy (one of the fishermen that helped with my study) and he waved at pile of varilava (herrings) that he’d collected from him. As Ngezy and I worked together regularly on fish monitoring studies, I think there was a strong chance that I’d measured those same varilava a few weeks back on the beach! "

Friday, November 04, 2005

Show Your Support for Another Marine Conservation Cause

The Ocean Conservancy released a scientific report showing that even the remote Northwestern Hawaiian Islands are not immune from the dangers of overfishing. The report -- based on government data -- reveals that some key fish populations in the area are in a steady decline due to fishing pressure.

Fewer than a dozen commercial fishing boats currently make the long journey to the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands' waters. But, as our report illustrates, the ecosystem cannot remain healthy if any commercial fishing continues in the region.

On Tuesday, Admiral Conrad Lautenbacher of NOAA rejected an effort to allow ecologically damaging fishing in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. By doing so, he has helped to preserve the natural character of this truly magnificent, globally important ecological treasure.

Show your support and sign the petition petition thanking Admiral
Lautenbacher and asking for full protection of the Northwestern Hawaiian
Islands by clicking here

Madagascar Hits the Airwaves

Yesterday BBC Radio 4 broadcast a radio-documentary about mining in Madagascar in their show Crossing Continents. We had mixed opinions about this show as you can see by checking their website and looking for comments by Richard Nimmo. If you missed this, then you can listen again by clicking here.