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Reefdoctor Org Limited
14 Charlwood Terrace,
SW15 1NZ

Telephone: 07866250740


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Business Description

ReefDoctor is a small UK based, not-for-profit, Tropical Marine Conservation organisation, founded in 2000, conducting coral reef research, implementing marine resource management principles, community education and social development work with the local Vezo fishing communities of the Bay of Ranobe, South West Madagascar, part of the third largest coral reef system in the world.

Our organisation adopts a holistic approach to undertake coral reef conservation, through the integration of marine research, management, education and social development initiatives. ReefDoctor works with local fishing communities to encourage the sustainable use of marine resources in order to protect ecologically valuable marine habitats and secure the future livelihoods of these coastal communities.
We believe that by educating and involving local communities in the sustainable management of marine resources they can become successful stewards of their own environment. ReefDoctor’s core organisational objectives have been formulated with this in mind;

• Practical and scientific research leading to effective education, conservation and social development
• To support and improve the welfare of populations that are largely dependent on the resources from coral reefs and associated marine environments
• To support community-led initiatives to develop sustainable marine management practices and conservation action plans
• To support the development of alternative diversified incomes away from the marine environment and its resources
• To promote and participate in the education of local communities, businesses and tourists

ReefDoctor works in the Bay of Ranobe, the coral reefs in this region form part of the world’s third largest barrier reef system, the Toliara Barrier Reef Complex. Since 2003 ReefDoctor has been monitoring the health status of these reefs which are under serious threat from poverty-driven over-exploitation of marine resources, sedimentation, global climate change and coastal development.

The project site is located next to the local fishing village of Ifaty, 27 km north of the provincial city of Toliara. We collaborate with the Marine Institute of Toliara the ‘Institut Halieutique et des Science Marines’ (IH.SM) and the University of Toliara. ReefDoctor works with 13 fishing villages of the Bay of Ranobe, with particular focus on Ifaty and the popular tourist destination of Mangily.

Our Core Objectives in the Bay of Ranobe;
• To assess and monitor the health of the marine ecosystems in the Bay de Ranobe and associated artisanal fishery, relaying this information to the local resource users, regional/national bodies and international institutions
• To create a fishing council run by the local resource users in order to establish sustainable management practices to secure resources for future generations
• To help support the fishing council with community lead initiatives for sustainable marine management and conservation action plans (Community manage marine reserves, rotational no take zones, providing alternatives to destructive fishing techniques etc.)
• To create and support the development of aquaculture initiatives for the local communities as alternative sources of economic and nutritional income and taking pressure off the natural reef system
• To create alternative fishing areas within the lagoon for the local resource users by creating new artificial reefs and thereby taking fishing pressure off the natural reef
• To undertake initiatives to restore degraded coral reef habitats through the use of coral reef restoration techniques
• To undertake initiatives to help restore and protect the Bays littoral ecosystems (mangroves, seagrasses)
• To promote and participate in the education of the local children (outside the national education system) and adults in environmental awareness and reef conservation practices
• To implement a marine focused environmental curriculum into the local public primary schools in the Bay and help support its development and the general development of these schools, alongside the regional and national education ministries and other international bodies
• To promote and participate in the education of tourists about the fragility of coral reefs, how to protect them, and the benefits of responsible tourism.
• To involve hotels and local businesses present in our work area to join with the local resource users in terms of protection of the reef for the economic benefit of the resource users and themselves
• To help create and support the development of alternative diversified incomes away from the marine environment and its resources
• To undertake initiatives for the social-economic development of the local communities
• To do whatever we can to help protect the traditional and cultural knowledge of the Vezo communities for future generations

Our activities to achieve our objectives centre on three key areas of work:

• Marine Research: focuses on using internationally recognized survey techniques to provide reliable, accurate information on the status of the coral reefs, seagrass meadows and reef fisheries within the Bay of Ranobe.

• Marine management: focuses on assessing the past and current use of marine resources by the local community and their reliance on the resources for sustenance and income, and how management of existing resources may be enhanced to improve yields, reduce the impacts to the reef and exploring alternative potential income generation from the reef.

• Community development: provides educational support and awareness raising for all levels of the community and explores how introduction of alternative livelihoods and income generation such as eco-tourism can benefit their development. In addition it also involves the provision of family planning initiatives, medical supplies and infrastructure improvements/aid to clean water supplies.

Business Services
ReefDoctor has opportunities for gap year, graduate/post graduates students and general enthusiastic people to support the project through our Volunteer ReefDoctor Programmes which are open to people aged 18+, for 4, 6, 8 and12 week and 6 months+ expeditions throughout the year.
ReefDoctor has 3 new distinct programmes tailored to volunteers depending on their time available and what they are looking to gain from joining us.
The EcoDiver programme is for people with limited time available to join us (3-5 weeks), but looking to learn about the marine environment, learn to dive, incorporate their diving skills into monitoring the marine environment, experience the local culture and help with hands on conservation.
The Research Assistant (RA) programme is for people who can commit for longer (6-12 weeks), ideal for students in the fields of marine biology, environmental sciences, conservation management etc., looking to gain field based work experiences needed for the degree and future career, learn to dive, incorporate their diving skills to undertake coral reef surveys, do a research project for your thesis, experience the culture and undertake hands on community based conservation.
The Research Assistant DiveMaster Internship is for people who can commit 6 or more months looking to gain all the experiences in an RA programme, become a qualified PADI DiveMaster and gain the skills needed to train and lead others in practical hands on marine research, management and conservation.
NB - If volunteers can only stay for 3-4 weeks due to University needs but looking to gain field based work experience we can tailor the RA programme so that you are fast tracked and undertake reef surveys and gain as much experience as possible within this time frame.
Volunteers receive a minimum 2 weeks training (or more depending on the programme you join and length of your stay) in marine species identification, underwater survey techniques (belt and Point line transects), dive training/certification, marine biology principles, marine management and conservation principles, first Aid and local community culture, history and dynamics.
* Free Dive Training to PADI Open water and Advanced Open Water to all as part of the expedition costs plus free hire of scuba diving gear. Rescue diver certification available for an extra fee to all undertaking a 8+ week expeditions. DiveMaster internship provides free dive certification from Open water to DiveMaster.
Our unique programme with small volunteer sizes and a staff to volunteer ratio of 1:1, provides intensive training, good information transfer and allows volunteers to participate in all aspects of our work.
Volunteer ReefDoctors then apply their training to our marine research and management, community education and social development projects alongside our team of local and international scientists.
Some of the daily work volunteers will be involved in;
- Completing scuba and snorkel based fish, invertebrate and benthic surveys.
- Placing and monitoring biological and ecological research experiments in the lagoon (e.g. coral reproductive outputs, sea urchin predation studies, etc.).
- Looking after the coral gardening project to grow corals for re-plantation onto damaged reef sites
- Undertaking coral bleaching and disease surveys (only done in the summer months October to March).
- Mapping coral reef areas.
- Seagrass surveys.
- Monitor the community managed marine protected areas.
- Monitor the daily catches of local fishermen.
- Help us and our partner ‘HONCO’ implement mangrove restoration projects.
- Help create educational material for the communities with our fishermen’s association ‘FIMIHARA’ on the purpose and benefits of marine protected areas, no take zones, banning destructive fishing techniques and gears etc.
- Help educate the local communities on the marine environment.
- Help educate local children on the marine and terrestrial environments through the ‘ReefDoctor Kid’s Club’ and the local public schools
- Help educate visiting tourists (we’re in the main tourist destination for the region) on the marine environment, what the communities are doing to protect and manage their resources and how they can help.
- Help our social development projects such as alternative livelihoods creation, family planning, health and hygiene with our local women’s association ‘FO MIRAY’.

Ultimately our goal is to involve volunteers in as much of our work as possible gaining an incredible experience in a country relatively untouched and seen by the west.
So become a volunteer ReefDoctor and take part in a unique opportunity to experience Madagascar, its people and culture, while contributing to marine conservation and sustainable community development.

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