Blue Ventures Conservation

Local catch monitors receiving training in sex identification of octopus

Blue Ventures and Dahari’s partnership project in the Comoros is making strides towards community-based marine management with coastal communities in Anjouan. Our approach is to develop an equal partnership with local communities and together identify ways of better meeting their immediate needs whilst securing the natural resources and biodiversity on which they depend in the long-term.

The first step has been to work together to study and raise awareness of the environmental, economic and social situation the communities face. To this end, staff and community members have been working together to gather information on existing community initiatives and structures, health of coastal environments, and the status of local fisheries.

Local catch monitors and Dahari staff reporting results to fishers

In the last year, we have completed a rapid assessment of coastal habitats for the Sima peninsula on Anjouan, and community members trained by BV and Dahari staff have recorded data from 778 fishing trips and 22,745 kg of landings, including the species caught, the fishing method, and the fish size and weight. Results of fisheries data collection have been fed back by community members to over 130 people through four village meetings. Adopting this collaborative approach to data collection with local communities aims to ensure strong buy-in to the project and co-discovery of appropriate solutions.

The project is now transitioning from information-gathering to facilitating collaborative reflection and analysis on the situation, including existing problems and potential solutions. Most recently, the community of Vassy attended a film screening showing our footage of an underwater view of their local fishing locations, a first-time view for many community members. Additionally, films were shown from Madagascar and Mozambique to share experiences of community-based management in these neighbouring countries where small-scale fishers face similar challenges of resource maintenance and livelihoods. The films were received enthusiastically, not only by the fishers and community members we work with regularly, but also by community members with whom we have had limited contact, thereby providing an opportunity to increase awareness of our collaborative activities.

Local catch monitors weighing and measuring catch from a fishing trip

To build on our progress, communities will be participating in group-learning exercises to identify marine resource pressures and potential solutions, and early next year representatives will go on an exchange visit to Velondriake Locally Managed Marine Area (LMMA) in SW Madagascar to observe community-based management initiatives. The representatives will report their observations back to their communities and carry forward collaborative planning and decision-making towards community-based marine natural resource management.

CEPF has been an essential partner in this project and we look forward to continuing our work with CEPF to take this exciting project forward.

Victoria Jeffers

Conservation Projects and Grants Manager  / Blue Ventures Conservation