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Charity's green fishing scheme nets UN award

PUBLISHED: 14:04 22 June 2007 | UPDATED: 14:34 07 September 2010

By Marijke Peters THE United Nations has honoured a Crouch End conservation charity for its pioneering work with a remote African community. Blue Ventures based in Avenue Road set up a partnership with fishermen in Andavadoaka on Madagascar to help them p

By Marijke Peters

THE United Nations has honoured a Crouch End conservation charity for its pioneering work with a remote African community.

Blue Ventures based in Avenue Road set up a partnership with fishermen in Andavadoaka on Madagascar to help them protect precious marine wildlife.

Last week the tiny village was awarded the Equator Prize and two of its inhabitants were congratulated at a ceremony in Germany on World Environment Day, organised to coincide with the G8 meeting.

Blue Ventures Research director Alasdair Harris said: "It's been incredible to work with a community so receptive to the idea of putting their livelihoods on the line for conservation. The reason they won is because they piloted a project that worked so well 23 other villages have adopted it too.

"It's a tremendous accolade for a local charity. The next step is to secure funding for much more ambitious work and roll it out to other areas."

Blue Ventures helped villagers establish no-go zones in the sea to give marine life a chance to recover from overfishing.

Coral reefs damaged by boats and nets also benefit from the scheme and have been able to recover and reproduce.

A deep-sea cucumber farm was planted to offset the financial losses incurred by fishermen and the profits are ploughed back into the community.

Last week Georges Manihara and Daniel Raberinary left Madagascar for the first time in order to receive the prize in Berlin.

Mr Harris said: "It was an absolutely amazing experience for them and it's hard to appreciate how this has gone from being a small initiative to being recognised by the United Nations.

"This shows conservation and the economy are very much linked. There can be no future without biodiversity and no fishing without protecting the natural habitats. The two go hand in hand and communicating that message is our priority."

The Equator Prize is presented by a partnership of the UN, businesses, governments and communities in an effort to raise the profile of grass-roots initiatives aimed at reducing poverty through conservation.

The village, which was also awarded $30,000, beat 300 nominations from 70 countries.

President of Andavadoaka Samba Roger said: "I am very happy my village won such a prestigious award, it means people will know about the work we do here.

"I hope it will help the community develop the village, we have a lot of projects waiting for funding so this prize will help us to realise them."

marijke.peters@hamhigh.co.uk

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