Fishing and fish exports have so far served as the main source of income for fishermen and Copefrito/Ocean Farmers. They thus have a common interest in establishing a business model that offers economic potential while at the same time conserving fish stocks and helping to preserve biodiversity.
However, seaweed cultivation also carries risks. If it becomes too extensive, pests such as epiphytes can spread and destroy entire cultivation areas within a few weeks. In addition, unchecked cultivation of red seaweed poses a threat to the maritime ecosystem, especially the coral reefs off the coast of Madagascar.
It is in the economic interests of Ocean Farmers and the local population to boost the resilience of red seaweed cultivation. This requires that the local population be aware of the risks to the maritime ecosystem and red seaweed farming, know how to protect both, and employ sustainable cultivation methods. In addition, protected areas and improved seeds can enhance the resilience of red seaweed cultivation.
In order to sustainably improve cultivation methods for red seaweed in the region around the Malagasy city of Tuléar, the project partners implemented the following measures between 2018 and 2021 with a project volume of over 450,000 euros:
- Training in sustainable farming practices for local seaweed farmers.
- Environmental awareness training for the local population on topics such as sustainable waste management and plastic waste in the ocean.
- Development of maps for five seaweed growing regions, including rules for the use of marine areas and a maintenance plan for red seaweed aquacultures. The maps also designate protected areas and boat lanes. They are coordinated with the local population and implemented by the local authorities.
- Research into the robustness of native species of red seaweed at 24 stations with 478 plants.
Ocean Farmers delivered the training and awareness campaigns in cooperation with several local non-governmental organisations, including Blue Ventures, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS). Ocean Farmers will adopt the standards developed as part of the project for future growing areas and contract farmers once the project has finished.
A respectful use of the natural resources of the sea and economic success are not contradictory. With the support of the develoPPP project, we were able to develop the cultivation of red seaweed into an economically successful and at the same time sustainable model together with the local population.
In the project region, production of red seaweed increased by 67 per cent between 2018 and 2021. The project has set new standards for good sustainable practices in seaweed cultivation and secured Ocean Farmers a safe means of producing raw Cottonii for export.
- Over 1,800 farmers in 40 villages completed training courses in maritime conservation and sustainable farming methods
- Five maps for red seaweed aquaculture and marine conservation have been created
- A comic in a local language summarising the training content was distributed to the predominantly illiterate farmers
- The local species of red seaweed should be improved through selection and induction before being used for commercial cultivation. This option will be explored further with scientific and commercial partners
develoPPP Classic is aimed at medium-sized and large companies that want to invest sustainably in a developing or emerging country and expand their operational activities locally. Suitable projects receive technical and financial support of up to two million euros in public funding.