For over half a century, the largely undocumented destruction of Madagascar’s marine ecosystem has threatened the livelihoods of traditional Vezo fishers.
The Voices of the Vezo project will work Vezo communities using film and storytelling to document changes in the local marine ecosystem over the course of their lifetime. The timing of the expedition is significant as elders living in Vezo communities today have lived through an unprecedented transformation of Madagascar’s marine ecosystem – witnessing the start and the rapid evolution of the industrialised exploitation of fish stocks in the region. They hold critical knowledge about the changes of ecosystem, yet as the generation ages the window to document this knowledge is rapidly closing.
Our ocean has never been so vital, nor so threatened. Overfishing, pollution, and the climate crisis are rapidly changing ocean ecosystems and threatening fish stocks that provide food and livelihoods for hundreds of millions of traditional small-scale fishers around the world.
It is traditional fishers, such as the Vezo, that have a tiny carbon footprint yet are extremely vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Likewise, it is traditional fishers that have the most to lose from collapsing fisheries caused by destructive and industrial overfishing.
Despite being on the frontline, there is little action remote Vezo communities can take against the international ocean and climate emergency – aside from sharing their story.
Voices of the Vezo provides an opportunity for Vezo people to share their story and bring Vezo voices to the international stage.
The Voices of the Vezo expedition will take place in along the west coast of Madagascar from October – December 2022. The expedition will have local collaboration at its core with a small international team of scientists and filmmakers working with local experts and Vezo community members.
The team will travel along the coast using open dugout and zebu cart to reach coastal villages, nestled between the arid spiny desert and the Mozambique Channel, and island villages, located on isolated sand cays.
We will spend several days in each village working with community groups to do participatory video (PV) – PV is an exercise which involves supporting a community group to create their own film about a given subject. The idea behind this is that it allows a group to explore issues and tell stories with their own narrative, as opposed to a narrative projected on the issue by the researcher or filmmaker. This process can be very empowering, enabling individuals to express and share their views and to support community decision-making.
Come with us on the journey. Follow the expedition in real-time on social media with updates on expedition preparation, travels and stories from the field.
Funding for this expedition was provided by NERC through an E4 DTP Studentship, Blue Ventures and the Scientific Exploration Society (SES). The project was awarded the SES Sir Charles Blois 2022 Explorer Award.
If you would like to know more about the project, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org