ReefDoctor Attends 16th Annual Reef Conservation UK Conference

London ConferenceHeld on the 7th December at the Zoological society of London ReefDoctor attended the 16th Annual conference for Reef Conservation UK (RCUK) attended by 130 International scientists from a range of organisations and Universities from across the UK.

Roderick Stein-Rostaing and Marine Gouezo presented two posters at the conference on our community managed FANO turtle conservation project and on the to be published results of the ecological effects of protection on the first community managed marine reserve the Rose Garden in the Bay of Ranobe SW Madagascar.

The conference was a great opportunity to learn about the latest reef research and conservation initiatives from all around the world. We look forward to attending again next year!

ReefDoctor – Ecological effects of a community managed marine reserve in the Bay of Ranobe SW Madagascar

ReefDoctor – Marine turtle fishery Bay of Ranobe SW Madagascar and the transition to community management


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Emmy award-winning doc of our local fishermen

Bernardin Jean (Maro) Bezozo, President of Fikambanana MPaniriky Miaro ny Fano (FI.MPA.MI.FA), the turtle management association of the Bay of Ranobe, narrates this stunning tale.

Hoda, the son of ReefDoctor employee Azy, sets sail 100 km north on a tiny boat to try to find out why the Vezo’s relationship with the ocean has fallen out of balance.

You can order the full film at

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The local school is now rebuilt after the Cyclone

We managed to help raise enough money to rebuild the local school after the cyclone early this year. The opening ceremony of the Ifaty school repair reported on national Malagasy news was a great day and can be seen below:

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The second edition of Resources, our biannual newsletter

The second edition of Resources has arrived, giving an update on the comings and goings at ReefDoctor, the rebuilding of the school and on-going research projects. Now with the added bonus of being in English and French. You can view the PDF below:

Resources Issue 2 – English

Resources Issue 2 – French

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The Marine Turtle Hunters of SW Madagascar

1-10-revThe Vezo of Southwest Madagascar have hunted marine turtles for generations, yet few studies have assessed the impact of the exploitation of these remarkable animals in this region. This is almost certainly due to the secretive nature of this fishery and the wariness the Vezo display with people from outside their community.

We have been working in the Bay of Ranobe, Southwest Madagascar for the last 12 years, and are committed to assessing all aspects of marine research, especially the multi-species fishery on which the Vezo are reliant for their survival. The close relationship RD has developed with the community over this time has given us a unique opportunity tackle cultural sensitive issues such as the exploitation of marine turtles.

Goodvin, an elder on the Fano project council attending the annual turtle meetingIt was suggested by Vezo community elders that although the Vezo culture is heavily dependent on the consumption of turtle meat, the turtle fishery is becoming more commercial by the decade.

In 2008 ReefDoctor, with sponsorship from the Rufford small grants foundation, pioneered an innovative conservation approach to evaluate the marine turtle fishery. The project aims at collating ethnographic information to assess patterns of turtle-human interactions, alongside biological data on the capture and consumption rates of marine turtles.


Since the inception of this project, over 1500 marine turtles have been captured and slaughtered in the Ranobe region. Irrespective of the Vezo’s sustainable utilisation of marine turtles in the past, it is now evident that indigenous knowledge that prevented the over-exploitation of these animals has been lost over the generations. Thus, it is posited that the marine turtle fishery is a serious threat to populations utilising the coastal waters of southwest Madagascar.

One of the turtle collectors preparing turtle meat to sell to local families, the killings are done as soon as dawn breaks and the cold brings all the family to gather round the warmth of the fireDuring the course of this project the community conservation efforts transitioned into a grassroots movement by turtle hunters to protect their identity and livelihood through the protection of marine turtles. This movement was formally recognised as a legal association by the Malagasy government in 2012. Focusing on reducing the illegal exploitation of marine turtles in the Bay of Ranobe, the association seeks to synthesise indigenous knowledge into a practical fisheries management framework.

1-3-revEarlier this year the first dina or traditional law preventing the hunting of turtles under 70cm was implemented throughout thirteen communities, with an estimated population of over 20,000 people. In addition, each community has formed a turtle protection team composed of elders and fishermen who are responsible for the maintenance of the dina, largely reducing conflict and providing a platform for marine turtle protection in the region.

By Emma Gibbons, Head Science Officer at ReefDoctor.

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