For the past 10 years Blue Ventures (BV) has been developing community-based aquaculture models with coastal fishing communities in southwest Madagascar. One of the most exciting and promising of these has been the sea cucumber aquaculture model. Over the past three years we have reevaluated and rebuilt our farming system to include the development of security mechanisms, experimental trials to better the carrying capacity of the sediment and our stocking strategies, as well as ensuring that the governance model in place suited the needs of the fishers we were working with, and was built from the ground up.
Together, 78 farmers earned a net profit of 4,800 USD – an average of over $60 per farmer!
On the 4th of February 2019, farmers from the coastal village of Tampolove in southwest Madagascar experienced their largest harvest ever of over 5,500 sea cucumbers. Together, 78 farmers earned a net profit of 4,800 USD – an average of over $60 per farmer – after paying all operational costs themselves. In a region where the average income is less than $2 per day, this is a potentially transformative sustainable income.
While the farmers were gearing up for their first full harvest after remodelling, four members of the BV aquaculture team, myself included, were across the ocean in Unguja, Zanzibar, having been invited by FAO Tanzania to share our experiences and the community-based sea cucumber farming model we have helped to improve and implement.
This short film tells the story of our time in Zanzibar, and the response to the training workshops we led:
This is a really exciting time for our aquaculture team as it’s the first time we’ve shared our experiences outside of Madagascar, and we really feel like there is huge potential for community-based sea cucumber aquaculture throughout the western Indian Ocean and beyond.
By forging relationships with other partners in new locations we can develop and learn together in order to build truly sustainable aquaculture models that will benefit the communities managing them, and the environments that they’re placed within long into the future.
The BV aquaculture programme and team would like to sincerely thank and acknowledge our principal partner Norges Vel for their contributions to the development of the community-based sea cucumber farming model, through the hard times and the good.
Many thanks to our commercial partner Indian Ocean Trepang, and thanks to FAO Tanzania, Korea International Cooperation Agency and the Government of Zanzibar for supporting this learning exchange, and thanks to NORAD for supporting our aquaculture work.