Blue Ventures

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Blue Ventures Conservation
Blue Ventures logo.png
Founded 2003
Founder Dr. Alasdair Harris, Tom Savage, Dr. Robert Conway, Matthew Linnecar
Focus Marine Conservation, Sustainable fisheries, Community health, Education, Aquaculture, Alternative livelihoods, Blue carbon, Family planning, Eco-tourism, Invasive species
Area served
Madagascar, Belize, Timor Leste
Method Research, education, community capacity building, advocacy
Slogan Beyond Conservation

Blue Ventures is a science-led social enterprise that develops transformative approaches for nurturing and sustaining locally led marine conservation. The organisation works in partnership with coastal communities in places where the ocean is vital to the culture and economy, and promotes transformative and integrated approaches to marine conservation and coastal poverty alleviation. Blue Ventures has operated field programmes in Belize, Fiji, Malaysia, Madagascar and Ghana. Blue Ventures is currently operating in Madagascar, Belize and Timor-Leste with a small number of staff based in Comoros and Mozambique supporting partners' projects.

The promotion of community-based tropical marine conservation forms the cornerstone of Blue Ventures’ work, which focuses on developing innovative models for sustaining and scaling locally led marine conservation.


Blue Ventures is structured as a social enterprise; comprising limited company Blue Ventures (Expeditions) Ltd (BVE) and registered charity Blue Ventures Conservation (BVC). The ecotourism expeditions operate through Blue Ventures Expeditions Ltd to raise money and awareness for their conservation work through international paying volunteers who travel to project sites to assist with research and community projects.

Profits raised by BVE are donated to BVC at the end of each fiscal year. In addition, BVC, registered with the Charity Commission for England and Wales (charity number 1098893), conducts its own fundraising.[1] This hybrid structure is designed to maximise Blue Ventures’ independently-derived income, and minimise the financial risk incurred to conservation programming through over-reliance on unpredictable and irregular donor income and charitable donations. Blue Ventures’ marine ecotourism operations also provide an effective platform on which the organisation can develop and test new models for conservation.

Blue Ventures is managed by a 14-person international team based in London, Bristol and Exeter, responsible for the overall leadership of the organisation and supporting much larger field teams based within overseas country programmes. In 2015 Blue Ventures employs approximately 100 staff globally. The UK-based international team is supported by a team of trustees and advisors who support staff in furthering the organisation’s mission.

Community conservation[edit]

Blue Ventures recognises that managing fisheries and marine resources works best when it is in the hands of local communities. This is particularly the case in low-income countries, where the national capacity for enforcement of marine and fisheries legislation may be weak. Blue Ventures' strategy focuses on empowering coastal communities to manage their own resources and develop effective, adaptive and locally appropriate conservation strategies, designed to sustain local small-scale fisheries and safeguard marine biodiversity.

In 2004, the village of Andavadoaka piloted a temporary octopus no-take zone (NTZ) near the island of Nosy Hao. The temporary fishery closure was regarded by the community as a resounding success, its results prompting neighbouring villages up and down the coast to replicate this community-based approach to fisheries management.[2] The village of Andavadoaka was awarded the United Nations Equator Prize as a result of its efforts to promote sustainable marine resource management.[3]

Out of these replication efforts came the need for coordination of these closures among the neighboring villages, and for a combined set of rules and regulations for fishing, outside of octopus gleaning. To fill this need, the communities worked with Blue Ventures and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) to set up the Velondriake locally managed marine area (LMMA), administered by the Velondriake Association. This protected area, which unites over 8000 people from 24 villages in the management of almost 1000km2 of marine and coastal environment, is amongst the largest community-managed marine protected area in the Indian Ocean. In 2014 Blue Ventures worked with communities in the north west of Madagascar to support the establishment of the West Indian Oceans' largest LMMA in the Barren Isles. [4]

In 2012, 55 community members representing 18 LMMAs throughout Madagascar came together to share their experiences at Madagascar’s first national LMMA forum. This meeting resulted in the creation of a national LMMA network called MIHARI, an acronym for MItantana HArena and Ranomasina avy eny Ifotony, that translates to “Marine resources management at the local level”. Blue Ventures is working with network members to support and develop the MIHARI network by providing training and educational tools.

Blue Forests[edit]

Madagascar is home to nearly 4,000 km2 of mangrove forests, the fourth largest extent found in Africa. These “blue” forests provide a bounty of ecosystem services for millions of coastal people around the world; they protect coasts, regulate water quality, offer habitat for many marine species, and supply food and raw materials. However, they are also central in helping to fight global climate change due to their exceptional ability to sequester carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere. In 2011 Blue Ventures established the blue forests project to incentivise community-based conservation of mangrove ecosystems in western Madagascar.[5] Blue Ventures is working to generate carbon offsets, such as REDD+, through the conservation and restoration of mangrove forests, promoting sustainable management of mangroves while contributing to poverty alleviation. The blue forests project is using cutting-edge scientific research to examine deforestation and carbon sequestration in mangroves, while also engaging local communities about the importance of mangrove forests.

Community health[edit]

Blue Ventures currently runs a community health programme serving 20,000 people across 50 villages along Madagascar’s southwest coast (Velondriake and Belo sur Mer) and in 2016 is expanding the programme to the Barren Isles. This programme supports couples to make their own reproductive health choices, and integrates closely with Blue Ventures’ marine conservation and sustainable livelihoods initiatives to form the organisation’s award-winning Population-Health-Environment (PHE) approach.[6] This holistic model reflects and addresses the inextricable links between unmet family planning needs, food insecurity, environmental degradation and vulnerability to climate change.

In 2014, Blue Ventures led the formation of Madagascar’s national PHE Network, linking 35 conservation and health organisations working in some of Madagascar’s most biodiverse and under-served areas and is now providing PHE support and advice to a range of partners including several in Mozambique.


Blue Ventures runs volunteer expeditions to Madagascar, Belize and a new site in 2016 - Timor-Leste, for international volunteers and for school and university groups. The volunteer programmes are integrated within every part of Blue Ventures' work. BV’s volunteer programme has received numerous awards within the tourism sector,[7] and been praised by Simon Reeve of the BBC's Indian Ocean Series.

Belize Programme[edit]

Since March 2010, the organisation has been running volunteer expeditions to Belize to conduct scientific research and educational outreach programmes.[8][9] The volunteer programme in Belize is located on the Belize Barrier Reef which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The organisation conducts ecological monitoring within the Bacalar Chico Marine Reserve[9][10] in order to advise the Belize Fisheries Department on management effectiveness.[11] Much of the work in Belize is focused on tackling the invasive lion fish population including creating a market to drive the targeted removal of the lionfish, developing alternative sources of income such as lionfish fin jewellery and ecotourism trips to survey and hunt lionfish. It also carries out community education and outreach activities in Sarteneja, Corozal District, the largest fishing village in Belize.[12]


Blue Ventures has won a number of awards [4] including;

  • WWF Duke of Edinburgh Conservation Award, 2015 [5]
  • Global Youth Travel Awards, 2015 [6]
  • The St Andrews Prize for the Environment 2014. [7]
  • Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship, 2015 [8]
  • National Geographic’s 50 Tours of a Lifetime, 2015 for Belize Lionfish trip [9]
  • The St Andrews Prize for the Environment, 2014 [10]
  • Excellence in Leadership for Family Planning (EXCELL) Award 2013. [11]
  • Tusk Award for Conservation 2013. Highly Commended in the Tusk Award for Conservation [12].
  • SeaWeb Seafood Champion Award 2012 for seafood sustainability [13]
  • The British Youth Travel Awards 2012. Winner in "Best Volunteering Organisation" category [14].
  • Katerva Awards 2012. Finalist in "Ecosystem Conservation" Category [15].
  • The Buckminster Fuller Challenge award in 2011[13][14] Buckminster Fuller Challenge, 2011 - "For developing a comprehensive, integrated, solution that has significant potential to solve one of humanity's most pressing problems."
  • IUCN Young Conservationist Award 2010. Blue Ventures’ Research Director Alasdair Harris was selected as winner of the 2010 Young Conservationist Award, an award by the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas and the International Ranger Federation which honours outstanding achievements by young people in the world’s protected areas [16].
  • Responsible Tourism Awards 2010. Winner in the "Best Volunteering Organisation" category [17].
  • Observer Ethical Awards 2010. Runner-up [18].
  • Al Harris named one of the Future 100 Young Social Entrepreneurs 2009 [19].
  • Condé Nast Traveler Environmental Award 2009. [20].
  • Equator prize (United Nations Development Programme) 2007. [21].
  • Skål International Eco-tourism Awards 2006. Winner of the "General Countryside" category [22].
  • United Nations SEED Award (UNDP, UNEP, IUCN) 2005 [23].


  1. ^ UK Charity Commission, Blue Ventures Conservation
  2. ^ Community-Based Conservation
  3. ^ Andavadoaka equator prize press release Archived July 13, 2013, at the Wayback Machine.
  4. ^ Live with the sea
  5. ^
  6. ^ Blue Ventures community health [1].
  7. ^
  8. ^ Blue Ventures Website
  9. ^ a b Jones, N., Ateweberhan, M., Chapman, J., Humber, F. and Gough, C. 2011. “Bacalar Chico Marine Reserve 2010: A Survey of the Coral Reefs in Bacalar Chico Marine Reserve”, Belize. Blue Ventures Conservation Report, Blue Ventures, London. "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-05-05. Retrieved 2012-07-21. 
  10. ^ Ateweberhan, M., Chapman, J., Humber, F., Harris, A., Jones, N., 2011. “Bacalar Chico: Belize Barrier Reef’s Northernmost Marine Reserve.” In: Palomares, M.L.D., Pauly, D. (eds.), Too Precious to Drill: the Marine Biodiversity of Belize, pp. 112118. Fisheries Centre Research Reports 19(6). Fisheries Centre, University of British Columbia ISSN 1198-6727. [2][permanent dead link]
  11. ^ Cortes, L.N. 2011. Legal and management framework for the sustainable management of marine protected areas in the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System: An analysis for the Mexican approach. The United Nations-Nippon Foundation Fellowship Programme 2011-2012. Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea. Office of Legal Affairs, the United Nations New York, 2011. Activities include monitoring of turtle nesting and hatching, coral reefs, fish spawning aggregations, seagrass and manatee, birdlife, mangroves and fish hatcheries.
  12. ^ Sarteneja Tours Website Archived September 16, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.
  13. ^ West, M.G., "Changing the World One Space at a Time", Wall Street Journal Online, " [3]", 14 June 2011
  14. ^ Buckminster Fuller Institute Website, ""Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-01-03. Retrieved 2011-12-21. " 17 July 2011

External links[edit]