SEVENSEAS Marine Conservation & Travel Issue 15, August 2016 - Page 99

The UNEP report says that efforts like those of in Madagascar will help countries shift to greener, more inclusive economies. A green economy (or a blue economy, where the ocean lies at its heart) is low carbon, efficient and clean. It is also an economy that is based on sharing, circularity, collaboration, solidarity, resilience, opportunity, and interdependence. Its growth is driven by investments that reduce carbon emissions and pollution, enhance energy efficiency, harness the power of natural capital – like the oceans – and halt the loss of biodiversity and the benefits that ecosystems provide.

The UNEP report also examines a project in The Gambia that supports female oyster harvesters. Founded in 2007, the TRY Oyster Women’s Association seeks to combat coastal degradation and unemployment by educating the women about how to harvest oysters sustainably and about the importance of mangroves.

Since its creation in 2007, TRY has grown from a small gathering of 40 oyster harvesters based in the Tanbi Wetlands National Park to a well-organized group with more than 500 members in 15 communities. By 2014, the association had instituted an eight-month closed season, imposed a minimum length for cockles and oysters and protected the roots of mangroves by banning the use of damaging equipment.

As a result of TRY’s work, the price of oysters more than doubled due to their larger size and the improved hygiene, handling and marketing of the molluscs; more than 370 women benefited from financial literacy training and individual loans of $30-180; more than 33.5 hectares of mangroves were planted by TRY members to act as vital nurseries for fish and oysters; and TRY became the first women’s association in Sub-Saharan Africa to be granted exclusive rights to a fishery by a national government.

“Through rights-based co-management, TRY and its members are now sustainably managing the country’s shellfish resources and associated ecosystems at very little cost to the government, while also improving their own livelihoods,” the UNEP report says.

Ultimately, the lessons learned from female oyster catchers in The Gambia and octopus fisherfolk in Madagascar can help the world harness the power of the oceans in a way that helps the planet shift to a green – or blue - economy.

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