Legendary Bahamian’s Ecotourism Destination Opens

By: Dan Tonnes and Scott Gillilan (2009 Kinship Fellows) When Edwin Burrows placed the first small f

WEBINAR: Working Toward Sustainability in Fisheries

Overfishing is one of the greatest threats to the health and sustainability of ocean ecosystems. It

Applications Open for Kinship Fellows 2015!

Applications Open for 2015 Cohort of Kinship Conservation Fellows Program Dates: June 28 – Jul


Legendary Bahamian’s Ecotourism Destination Opens

November 26, 2014 in Conservation Collaborations, Eco-Tourism, Ecosystems & Biodiversity

By: Dan Tonnes and Scott Gillilan (2009 Kinship Fellows)

When Edwin Burrows placed the first small fish in a saltwater lake near his home on Eleuthera, Bahamas some 65 years ago, he watched it slowly swim away, knowing one day he could catch it again when it was much larger. With a growing family, he needed to diversify his income and food sources to make ends meet.  He put sea turtles in the lake, made an egg-laying beach amongst the mangroves, and raised the young turtles in a small, homemade alcove along the shoreline. He grew pineapples in a field near the lake. He caught and sold fish to locals and tourists.

Over the next four decades Edwin and this 43-acre lake in Eleuthera, Bahamas would become synonymous with each other. He become a one-man force preserving the lake, gathering trash thrown along the roadside, and driving by at late hours of the night to deter turtle and fish poachers. On some maps, the lake is even called “Burrows Pond.” Edwin secured a lease from the government, but with 14 kids, numerous grandchildren, and the attendant duties of family, his dream of turning the lake into a world-class eco-tourism destination never became a reality.

Turtle in Turtle LakeWhen Edwin died in the early 1980’s, so did his dream. Over the next 30 years the sea turtle population persisted, but was threatened by poachers and a beach that was becoming overgrown. Most of his kids and grandkids moved away from Eleuthera and found success elsewhere, though thoughts of the lake and their father’s dream remained. When developers proposed to clear the mangroves along the shoreline, forever changing the pristine environment of the lake, the Burrows knew they needed to act soon to have a chance of making Edwin’s dream come true.

Arrival of initial deck lumber_02The Burrows family reached out to a group of Kinship Conservation Fellows to revitalize the lake effort, and in 2013 and 2014, a total of seven members of the Watersheds and Coastal Resiliency Affinity Group visited the lake, bringing with them a conservation photographer, a meeting facilitator, a landscape architect, conservationists focused on marine biology and sea turtles, and a tourism industry professional. With expertise in hydrology, renewable energy, marine biology and ecology, the team developed a report that provided a roadmap to revitalizing Edwin’s market-based conservation opportunities at the lake. They conducted baseline scientific surveys and helped restore the turtle beach. Team member Clark Stevens, a professor at Woodbury University, led a semester-long design studio class on the lake. Members of the Burrows clan visited the class in California and told the story of the lake to the group of rapt students who were immersing themselves in helping to solve the challenges the Burrows family faced.

“The Kinship Team really made this lake revitalization take off. My father (Edwin) would have loved their collective passion and persistence,” said James Burrows, Marine Reserve Director and Edwin’s son.

In early 2014, Professor Stevens, 2009 Kinship Fellow Scott Gillilan, and four students from the design class visited the Burrows family in Nassau to outline the potential methods to preserve and monetize the lake. After this meeting, the Burrows wrote a three-phase business plan and have since been developing the initial business infrastructure which includes lake adventure activities for tourists, like kayak and paddle board rentals and guided nature exploration on the lake.

Edwin’s Turtle Lake Marine Reserve will soon become the first privately managed marine conservation area in the Bahamas.

On November 1, 2014, “Edwin’s Turtle Lake Marine Reserve” will become the first privately held marine conservation area in the Bahamas, emphasizing mangrove and sea turtle conservation and research. Business development has been entirely self-funded by the Burrows Family thus far, but to achieve long term protection of the watershed, including securing parcels that remain for sale and diversifying income streams, the family is starting a crowd-funding campaign on Indiegogo. Much work remains, but Edwin’s dream now has a fighting chance of becoming reality.

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WEBINAR: Working Toward Sustainability in Fisheries

November 12, 2014 in Conservation Collaborations, Focus on Fisheries

oct2014_v3 350x350 Overfishing is one of the greatest threats to the health and sustainability of ocean ecosystems. It also poses a threat to the 3 billion people around the world who rely on seafood as an important source of protein and the millions of fishing industry workers who depend on stable wild fish populations for a steady stream of income. Unsustainable fishing—caused by poor fisheries management and wasteful fishing practices—is depleting the world’s fisheries, hurting the seafood industry and impacting marine ecosystems. However, there is hope. There is a growing number of examples where both fish and fishermen are thriving thanks to a change in incentives that aligns fishermen’s economic interest with the biological health of fish stocks.  These fishery management systems—catch shares—also known as rights-based management systems have increased fishermen’s well-being and supported the rebuilding of healthy fish populations. To watch the webinar recording, click on the video below. For the presentation slides, click here.

Featuring Kate Bonzon (2003 Fellow) of the Environmental Defense Fund, this webinar, Rights-Based Management: A Global Movement Toward Sustainability in Fisheries, examines how well-designed catch share programs can provide more fish in the water, more food on the plate and more prosperous communities citing examples of fisheries around the world.

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Bonzon, KateKate Bonzon is a leader in designing fisheries management approaches that deliver results. Collaborating with policymakers, fishermen, fishery managers, practitioners and other industry stakeholders, she is a leading pioneer in the development and design of catch shares worldwide. She oversees EDF’s cutting-edge research on catch shares and has developed numerous tools to advance catch shares including the first step-by-step guide for designing and implementing catch shares, the Catch Share Design Manual; the most comprehensive global database of catch shares; and an interactive learning game. She regularly presents on fisheries issues around the world and has trained hundreds of individuals on how to design and implement catch shares to meet their goals. Prior to her work on catch shares, she helped conceptualize, design, and capitalize the California Fisheries Fund which gives West Coast fishermen low-interest loans to facilitate their transition to sustainable fishing practices. She is a 2003 Kinship Conservation Fellow.

WEBINAR: A Global Movement Toward Sustainability in Fisheries from Kinship Conservation Fellows on Vimeo.

Applications Open for Kinship Fellows 2015!

November 3, 2014 in About Kinship

Applications Open for 2015 Cohort of Kinship Conservation Fellows

Program Dates: June 28 – July 29. Applications close January 26, 2015.

em_170px_v3November 1, 2014 | Chicago, Illinois, November 1, 2014: Kinship Foundation has opened applications for its 2015 cohort of Kinship Conservation Fellows. Eighteen applicants will be selected as Fellows, awarded a $6,000 stipend and lodging for the month-long program, and gain membership into a global community of environmental leaders.Kinship Conservation Fellows is an innovative environmental leadership program that offers intensive, in-residence instruction in implementing conservation projects using market-based mechanisms. During their month at Kinship, Fellows look beyond their technical and scientific capacities to understand the economic and business contexts influencing conservation worldwide. To date, 210 Fellows in 48 countries and six continents have been selected as Kinship Fellows.

Grounding economic, finance, and business concepts in practical and applied examples, Kinship’s curriculum features a case study approach to using market-based tools to achieve positive impact. Each Fellow brings a project to Kinship which they hone throughout the month with the help of their cohort and Faculty. Practical, interactive leadership training in the classroom and individualized coaching sessions are integrated across curriculum areas throughout the month.

“Kinship Conservation Fellows is an opportunity for mid-career conservation practitioners to advance their use of market-based tools and learn from expert faculty,” says Kinship Conservation Fellows Director, Nigel Asquith. “Fellows become part of a collaborative community of impressive peers around the world.”

Through a growing network of regional chapters and affinity groups, Kinship provides access to opportunities for engaging in collaboration and sharing thought leadership with a community of conservation leaders allowing Kinship Fellows to accelerate change well after the month-long program.

The 2015 Kinship Conservation Fellows program will take place on the campus of Western Washington University in Bellingham, Washington from June 28 through July 29, 2015. Mid-career conservation practitioners with at least five years of field experience, a bachelor’s degree, and a demonstrated desire to innovate are encouraged to apply for consideration as a Kinship Fellow. The online application can be accessed at www.KinshipFellows.org. The application deadline is January 26, 2015.


Established in 2001, Kinship’s mission is to develop a community of leaders dedicated to collaborative approaches to environmental issues with an emphasis on market-based principles. For more information about Kinship Conservation Fellows, please contact Catherine Rabenstine at catherine@kinshipfoundation.org or visit www.KinshipFellows.org.

How Markets Can Make a Difference in Forest Conservation

October 15, 2014 in Carbon, Mechanisms for Market-based Conservation

BY: Guilherme Valladares, 2008 Kinship Fellow

Originally Brazil’s Atlantic Rainforest covered more than 1.3 million km², an area larger than the state of California, but today less than 7% of this superbiodiversity-rich biome is left standing. Known for its 25 species of primates, 20 of which are endemic to the area, the Atlantic Rainforest is designated as a conservation hotspot. The remaining forest is extremely fragmented, and it continues to suffer from deforestation and forest degradation with the encroachment of millions of people living in its surroundings.

The Recôncavo region of Bahia state, where I and at least four generations of my family were born, was once covered by this lush forest. Since the 17th century, the forest has been converted into sugarcane and tobacco fields, cassava and other subsistence crops, and pasture fields.

“Presently, one of the most pressing factors contributing to the slow and steady degradation of the forest fragments is the use of wood as fuel for domestic cooking.”

Presently, one of the most pressing factors contributing to the slow and steady degradation of the forest fragments is the use of wood as fuel for domestic cooking. In the 33 counties that form the Recôncavo region, more than 100,000 households still depend on wood to fuel their stoves daily. Every day thousands of gatherers go into the forested areas to collect wood, and cook their meals over smoky, open fires.

Since 2001 we have engaged in many efforts to understand and reduce forest degradation in the region, and we have found a very effective and fast-result action that is now benefiting thousands of households: the introduction of improved cook stoves. By substituting rudimentary, open fires with efficient and robust stoves we reduce up to 60% of the wood removed from our forest fragments.

“ … we have found a very effective and fast-result action that is now benefiting thousands of households: the introduction of improved cook stoves.”

Valladares, Guilherme (2008)We have already substituted stoves in 6,000 households, and are now starting our second initiative, extending to another 6,000 households over the next three years. This effort is improving the lives of more than 40,000 people, especially women and children, who are generally the ones collecting and cooking with wood.

In 2010 our project design was the first initiative of its kind in Brazil to be validated by the Gold Standard to operate in the carbon market. The first independent verification occurred in 2012, for offsets totaling 98,000 tons of CO²e, and early this year our first carbon credits were issued and retired in the name of our client on the Markit Environmental Registry. Our second project design was validated in September of this year, allowing for the reduction of another 98,000 tons of CO²e.

” … early this year our first carbon credits were issued and retired in the name of our client on the Markit Environmental Registry. Our second project design was validated in September of this year, allowing for the reduction of another 98,000 tons of CO²e.”

Field operation requires accessing hundreds of remote, rural communities across the region. The logistics to transport materials and personnel are challenging, and may include trucks, tractors, wheel barrows, bicycles and pack animals. Stoves are built on-site at each home by our masons. After construction is completed, training and monitoring continues with hundreds of door-to-door visits and community meetings by our agents in the field.

All these results have been achieved with 100% funding from the proceeds of the carbon credit sales; we have not received any funds from philanthropy, private grants, or funds from the government or multilateral organizations. We are very proud of our fully market-based approach, which has forced us to work as a business with very lean operating costs, extremely reduced administrative expenses, firm timelines, and concrete, independently-audited results.

We are aware that many other efforts are needed to protect our forests. Nevertheless, traditional conservation efforts have failed over the last decades of intervention by big international NGOs and government agencies. Millions of dollars have been spent with no, or very few, measurable results. We feel that our success, based on a local and pragmatic approach, serves as an example of how markets can make a real difference in forest conservation.

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Valladares, Guilherme_2Guilherme Prado Valladares (2008 Kinship Fellow) is the founder and CEO of Ambiental PV Ltd., and executive director of Instituto Perene, both based in Salvador, Bahia, Brasil. Guilherme holds a B.Sc. in Forestry and Natural Resources Management from the California Polytechnic State University, and an Executive MBA from the Fundação Getulio Vargas. As a professional forester Guilherme worked for Duratex, Brazil´s leader in fiberboard production and pioneer in FSC certification. Later as a consultant Guilherme has worked with companies like AngloAmerican, Arcelor Mittal, PwC, Odebrecht, and NGOs like The Nature Conservancy, Climate Care, Conservation International, Forest Trends, and CARE International. In 2011 Ambiental PV was selected by the World Finance magazine as the best forest carbon company in Latin America. As head of Instituto Perene, Guilherme helped secure the sales of two carbon credit contracts, and coordinates all field operations. In 2011 Instituto Perene was given a special achievement award by the U.S. EPA for the work with efficient cookstoves.  Guilherme is a happy family man, married to partner Renata Everett for 17 years, and a proud father of two boys, Pablo (16) and Francisco (8). He is fluent in English, Portuguese and Spanish.

WEBINAR: Catalyzing Community-led Marine Conservation

September 30, 2014 in Conservation Collaborations, Ecosystems & Biodiversity, Mechanisms for Market-based Conservation

sept2014_blueventures_v2_200x200Seeing is Believing: Catalyzing Community-led Marine Conservation by Demonstrating the Economic Benefits of Fisheries Management in Madagascar and Belize

Join Dr. Al Harris of Blue Ventures and Dr. Tom Oliver of the University of Hawai’i in a discussion of the economic benefits of periodic fisheries closures in Madagascar and the impact that these closures have had in catalyzing a groundswell of broader community-based marine conservation efforts throughout the country and further afield. Watch the webinar recording, view the tweet chat, and read speaker bios below!



WEBINAR: “Seeing is Believing: Catalyzing Community-led Marine Conservation.” from Kinship Conservation Fellows on Vimeo.

Speaker Bios:

HarrisDr. Alasdair Harris, Founder and Research Director, Blue Ventures

A marine ecologist with an unhealthy obsession for corals, Al has spent 14 years developing marine research and conservation initiatives in the Indian Ocean, and founded conservation organisation Blue Ventures in 2003.

Within Blue Ventures, Al is responsible for coordinating conservation programmes, leading an interdisciplinary and international team of scientists, educators and conservation practitioners. His work focuses on developing scalable solutions to marine environmental challenges, in particular pioneering market-based approaches that make marine conservation make economic sense to coastal communities.

Alongside his work with Blue Ventures, Al is a visiting post-doctoral researcher at the University of Oxford’s Environmental Change Institute, a member of the World Commission on Protected Areas, a member of the Marine Stewardship Council’s Stakeholder Council, and a technical advisor to the United Nations Environment Programme’s Convention on Migratory Species Secretariat.

Al is recipient of the IUCN World Conservation Union’s Young Conservationist Award, winner of the Condé Nast Environment Award, an Ashoka Fellow, and a passionate ambassador of Australia’s penguins. His work developing sustainable business approaches for financing conservation has twice been commended by the UK Chancellor in the ‘Enterprising Young Brits’ awards, and was highly commended by HRH the Duke of Cambridge in the 2013 inaugural Tusk Conservation Awards.

Watch Al speaking at the Do Lectures, WWF’s 2013 Fuller Symposium, and the BBC’s World Challenge

OliverDr. Tom Oliver, Assistant Professor, University of Hawai’i

Dr. Oliver received his PhD from Stanford University in 2009, studying under Prof. Stephen Palumbi. His thesis work focused on the adaptation of reef coral and their symbionts to current and future environmental extremes. Since then he has served as a Post-Doctoral researcher at Stanford, researching genomic-scale expression in response to heat stress in corals, and as a Post-Doctoral Researcher with Blue Ventures Conservation, studying the biological, economic, and social effects of temporary fishery closures among the Vezo people of Southwest Madagascar. He now serves as a Post-Doctoral Researcher at the Hawaiian Institute for Marine Biology, under Prof. Ruth Gates.

About Blue Ventures

Blue Ventures is a UK-based conservation organisation working to rebuild tropical fisheries with coastal communities. The organisation is committed to protecting marine biodiversity in ways that benefit coastal people.  Blue Ventures works in places where the ocean is vital to local cultures and economies, and where there is a fundamental unmet need to support human development.

Catch Shares: Challenges and Successes

September 22, 2014 in Ecosystems & Biodiversity, Mechanisms for Market-based Conservation

In this Q&A, Kate Bonzon, Senior Director, Knowledge and Solutions, Oceans – Environmental Defense Fund, talks about the catch shares program: the history, the challenges, and the successes.

Q: Tell us a bit about yourself.

At Environmental Defense Fund, I lead a team of experts dedicated to delivering cutting edge research and management options for fishermen and fishing communities. It’s our job to research what works, what doesn’t and share that knowledge with fishing communities that want a better future. We focus on the design and implementation of fishing rights, also known as “catch shares.”

I’m based in San Francisco and when I’m not in the office, you can find me enjoying the water—whether it’s walks on the beach, learning to sail or actually swimming in the Bay! I also love a day at the ballpark with my family or friends watching the awesome San Francisco Giants, and even better when they are in the World Series!

Q: What led you to an interest in fisheries management approaches?

I’ve always had strong ties to the oceans. Growing up, I spent my summers on Whidbey Island, near Seattle, where my mom’s family has vacationed in the same cabin on Useless Bay every year since 1949. That’s where I learned to crab, clam, and fish, and I have fond memories of walking the tide flats, exploring and enjoying the environment. And, I still return every year for at least a few days.

I realized I could actually have a career related to the ocean while in college. I took a class called “Fishing for Solutions” and was hooked! I learned about the real and complex challenges facing the ocean, but also about promising, effective solutions like catch shares, marine protected areas and sustainable labeling. These exciting new concepts coupled with my professor’s enthusiasm and breadth of knowledge inspired me to turn my passion into a career as well.

Q: Give us a snapshot of the historical context that led to the development of catch shares.

The world’s oceans were once considered so abundant with fish and marine life that we could fish harder and harder, and never deplete them. As human populations around the world increased—so did the taste for seafood—along with the advent of new and improved fishing technology and equipment. This has added increased stress on fish populations, generally resulting in dwindling wild fish stocks, decreasing catch and declining value to fishermen and communities.

In attempts to prevent such depletion, fishery managers often limited fishing effort by restricting the number of fishing trips or amount of fishing gear used. But the key drawback of “effort management” – and the reason these systems are an imperfect solution — is that reducing one measure of effort often increases other measures. For example, limiting the days a vessel can fish may lead to the use of bigger boats; limiting the number of boats may lead to the use of larger engines. The incentive to increase catch still remains because anything one fisherman leaves in the ocean could easily, and likely, be caught by another. There is no incentive for long-term stewardship.

But there is an alternative. All over the globe, we have seen examples of management systems that work, some based on thousands of years of experience and others recently implemented. Through extensive research, the common thread we discovered is that these systems provide fishermen with a long-term stake in the fishery, tying their current behavior to future environmental outcomes. By giving fishermen the privilege or right to a secure area or share of the catch, fishermen also retain the responsibility to conserve fish stocks and marine ecosystems and are subsequently rewarded by stable and healthy fish populations. Collectively termed “catch shares” more and more fisheries are trying to emulate these successful programs.

All over the globe, we have seen examples of management systems that work, some based on thousands of years of experience and others recently implemented.

Importantly, catch shares are flexible and can be custom designed to meet the different characteristics and goals of diverse fisheries. And they are. As of 2013, about 200 catch share programs are managing more than 500 different species in the waters of 40 countries.

If you’d like to learn more about catch shares, visit our Catch Share Design Center, the leading online resource for science-based information on catch shares. Another helpful resource is Google Scholar’s Catch Shares page.

Q: What are the greatest challenges in guiding a group toward implementing a catch share program?

ScreenHunter_02 Sep. 22 10.34Over the course of my tenure at EDF, I’ve had the opportunity to collaborate with policymakers, fishermen, fishery managers and other industry stakeholders around the world—and nearly all of them want the same thing – a productive, profitable fishery that delivers fresh, good quality fish.

But, implementing a catch share requires change. And change is hard, especially when it is unknown.

That’s one reason we developed the Catch Share Design Manual, the first ever step-by-step planning guide for fishery managers, fishermen and practitioners. It draws on the experience of hundreds of fisheries in more than 30 countries and the expertise of more than 80 fishery experts around the world. It shows how other people have successfully made this change and highlights how many different communities have tailored catch share programs to meet their unique needs.

The manual has been successful. So successful that many stakeholders began asking for more fishery management tools and resources, which prompted my team to develop a comprehensive toolkit for designing and implementing catch share programs in a wide array of contexts.

Q: What are you finding to be the long-term outcomes of catch shares management?

Around the world, from small scale fisheries to large commercial fishing operations, well-designed catch share programs are increasing compliance with catch limits, decreasing bycatch and discarded fish, increasing revenues and cutting back fishing-related costs, showing that sustainable fishing has a breadth of great environmental and financial benefits.

A review of 345 fish stocks from around the world found that those managed with catch shares had significantly lower cases of overexploitation, or fishing more than the resource can bear, when compared to conventional management practices while another study found that catch share implementation can prevent, or even reverse, collapse of fisheries.

Catch shares have also been shown to stabilize the amount of fish caught as well as fish populations.  They provide fishermen more time and flexibility to choose when to take fishing trips. These factors make fishery management more certain and improve fishermen’s ability to plan more efficient and profitable business operations, while also making fishing safer.

Q: Where do you see yourself headed in the next few years?

I’ll never forget one of my first projects when I first started at EDF. I traveled up and down the California coast interviewing fishermen about their fishing experience and knowledge and include their insights into policy discussions. It didn’t take long for me to understand that most fishermen want to take of the resource, and even feel that it’s their duty to do so. But ineffective fishing policies were making that impossible while also hampering their businesses.

Ever since then, my on-going goal is to play a pivotal role in equipping fishermen and oceans stakeholders with the resources and knowledge they need to improve their businesses while also protecting biodiversity and ocean health.

Q: If you could eat any kind of fish for dinner tonight, what would you pick?

Living in the Bay area, I have access to some of the best taquerias in the country. And I frequent them often! I love a good rockfish taco and now I can enjoy them knowing that they are managed sustainably under the West Coast Groundfish fishery’s catch share program. In fact, the Monterey Bay Aquarium recently rated rockfish as a “Best Choice” option under their Seafood Watch Program—a seafood sustainability rating system.

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Bonzon, KateKate leads a diverse and talented team of experts to deliver cutting-edge scientific research, trainings and policy recommendations for innovative fisheries management.  Collaborating with policymakers, fishermen, fishery managers and other industry stakeholders, Kate is a pioneer in the development and design of catch share programs, a proven approach for ensuring sustainable fisheries. She has led the development of numerous tools to advance the approach, including the first step-by-step guide for designing and implementing catch shares (the Catch Share Design Manual). Over the course of her EDF tenure, Kate has advised governments, fishermen and other stakeholders in more than 30 countries on sustainable fishery management tools and policies. Prior to her work on catch shares, she helped conceptualize, design, and capitalize the California Fisheries Fund, which gives U.S. West Coast fishermen low-interest loans to facilitate their transition to sustainable fishing practices. Kate graduated from Stanford University with an M.S. in Earth Systems and a B.A. in Human Biology. She is a 2003 Kinship Conservation Fellow.

Creating a Market for Lionfish

September 15, 2014 in Economics and Business, Ecosystems & Biodiversity, Environmental Education, Mechanisms for Market-based Conservation

By: Jen Chapman (2014 Fellow)

In this interview, Jen describes what sparked her passion for the marine environment and how she works to create an active and diverse market for lionfish with Blue Ventures in Belize. This interview is part of a Fisheries Series this fall, featuring webinars as well as articles like on The Kinship Lens.

Q: Tell us a bit about yourself.

I consider myself extremely lucky to have been raised in Singapore and South Africa, and by parents who love travelling and the outdoors. My upbringing is definitely the source of my passion for the marine environment. I remember snorkelling on Malaysian coral reefs as a child, finding a hawksbill turtle that had died entangled in a discarded fishing net, seeing shark fins drying on lines in villages, and my heart breaking when I saw the fish that I loved to see on the reef, in live seafood restaurants’ aquaria.

As I became more interested in coral reefs and fisheries, I became appalled by the methods that are used to harvest these precious resources and the associated inequality in distribution of wealth. When I finished my biology degree, I returned to South East Asia to complete a coral reef conservation internship with Endangered Species International in the Philippines and then worked as a biologist and project manager for Ecofieldtrips.

Whilst exploring the fantastic biodiversity of the Coral Triangle, I realised that my passion lay in practical conservation work, and I had a strong desire to try living somewhere I had never been before. I was thrilled to start working for Blue Ventures in Belize in 2011 and have absolutely fallen in love with this beautiful country. Sometimes, I have to pinch myself when I bump into a manatee on a water quality monitoring trip, or whilst gearing up for an early dive at our field site, Bacalar Chico; a time often coupled with an unbeatable sunrise! I am based at our office in Belize’s largest fishing village, Sarteneja, and from the moment I got off the bus, I felt at home. That feeling has never left.

Q: The major hurdle in encouraging fishermen to catch and restaurants to source lionfish, is their venomous spines. How does Blue Ventures handle educating communities about this?

Fishers Workshop. Sarteneja Fishermen Association.

Fishers Workshop. Sarteneja Fishermen Association.

Since mid-2011, we have held regular lionfish safe handling demonstrations with fishers and often couple these with tasters and information booths for the general public. These events invariably start with a presentation reviewing the lionfish invasion, so that everyone understands the negative impacts this invasive fish has on Caribbean reefs, after which we pull out the first of many dead, whole lionfish. Our objective is to show that getting a lionfish market-ready is not so tricky, as long as you know the location of the venomous spines.

Most people are aware of the large dorsal spines, but the smaller spines located on the pelvic and anal fins are less obvious and are usually the source of a sting. We also place a heavy emphasis on the effective use of hot water as first aid, as well as the difference between poisonous (don’t eat) and venomous (don’t touch).

After the first demonstration, fishers in the audience are invited to try cleaning and filleting lionfish, and offered tasters of lionfish ceviche and empanadas. During our first events, people were very hesitant to try and some outright refused; now, fishers bring lionfish home to feed to their families.

Q: Lionfish has been featured on menus in Sarteneja, Belize for a few years now. Are you seeing interest from consumers outside that community? How is Blue Ventures working to increase demand?

Yes, definitely. We work to increase demand through media appearances, submitting articles to national newspapers, as well as holding regular taster events. We are aiming at expanding our social marketing campaign to include roadside banners, t-shirt distribution, and radio adverts. We also partner with the Southern Environmental Association to conduct an annual lionfish culling derby, an event that always gets people talking about lionfish.

I suppose, in reality it’s quite simple – at every opportunity, we are there talking about lionfish, giving out tasters, playing lionfish themed games, and wearing lionfish t-shirts! To help restaurants in selling this relatively new food item, we provide marketing assistance in the form of posters, table tents, and menu inserts encouraging the consumer to try this delicious and environmentally sound seafood choice.

Q: What are the major advances you’ve seen in the last year or so in your project?

Lionfish Catch. Photo by Lee Mcloughlin.

Lionfish Catch. Photo by Lee Mcloughlin.

In mid-2013, we partnered with a US-based seafood distributor, Traditional Fisheries, and Placencia’s fishing cooperative to facilitate the first international export of lionfish from Belize. All went smoothly, however a subsequent increase in shipping costs means that we have to find an alternative route to meet the international demand. Nevertheless, the first export did attract a great deal of media attention, and fishers began to deliver lionfish to the Placencia Cooperative for distribution nationally.

In 2014, seeing an increase in demand, we partnered with the Sarteneja Fishermen Association to train another 32 fishers on lionfish safe-handling and to develop fisher-restaurant partnerships. Over the last month in particular, we have seen a huge increase in the number of fishers targeting lionfish, which they are selling to restaurants around Belize.

As of September 2014, lionfish can be found for sale in all six districts in Belize, and more restaurants are reaching out to us to develop partnerships with fishers. That’s not to say there isn’t still work to be done; we want to see lionfish in all restaurants in Belize, and eaten in homes across the country! We’re in the process of collecting data from restaurants to get an estimate of current turnover – a figure I’m excited to see. Another interesting development has been lionfish jewellery production, which has boomed in the last six months.

Q: Are you willing to share your favorite lionfish recipe?

Photo by Gordon Kirkwood.

Lionfish ceviche. Photo by Gordon Kirkwood.

I can never get enough lionfish ceviche – and it’s so easy to make! Raw, cubed lionfish fillet is marinated in a delicious concoction of tomato, onion, cilantro and lime – the lime cooks the fish, so when you see it has turned white, you know it’s ready.







Interested in learning more about Blue Ventures’ work with lionfish? Check out the resources below.

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Chapman, Jennifer - photoJen Chapman is the Country Coordinator for Blue Ventures in Belize, where she has led the development of research and conservation programmes since 2011. A key part of this has been leading the promotion of market-based strategies to address invasive lionfish populations, including the successful development of international export and domestic markets. Prior to working in Belize, Jen was based in Singapore, where she was responsible for developing and leading educational fieldtrips throughout South East Asia, specialising in marine biology, conservation and environmental education. She received a Bachelor of Science with honours in Biology from the University of Southampton in the UK, where she subsequently worked as a research assistant investigating the environmental sustainability of bioenergy crops. Jen believes passionately that innovative, sustainable, market-led approaches are required to solve problems of depletion of marine resources – the recovery of which are inextricably linked to human health, wealth and happiness.

Addressing Problems Around the World

September 4, 2014 in About Kinship, Carbon

By Andrew Goldberg, 2014 Kinship Fellow

Andrew introducing himself to the group on Day 1 of Kinship Fellows.

Andrew introducing himself to the group on Day 1 of Kinship Fellows.

I’m back in Asheville after spending July in Bellingham, Washington as a 2014 Kinship Conservation Fellow. I’ve returned to work at Dogwood Alliance with a new appreciation for the global nature of environmental problems, the diverse tools used to achieve conservation success, as well as many great new friends from my wonderfully diverse cohort.

While I originally viewed the fellowship as a way to deepen my understanding on the workings of conservation through forest carbon like our Carbon Canopy work, the program took me on a deep dive into tools used to address problems across the world.

” … the program took me on a deep dive into tools used to address problems across the world.”


Norbu and Andrew and other Fellows from the 2014 Cohort.

For example, my new friend Tsering Norbu from the Tibet Autonomous Region of China, who founded and leads the Pendeba Society, which is focused on environmental conservation of the high plateau around Mt. Everest, preventive health care and eco-tourism income generation from the growing number of Chinese and international tourists coming to visit the Everest region. His work is about as different from Dogwood’s work with the forests of the US South as it can be. Norbu told me about his project to address the loss of wetlands on the Tibetan high plateau by teaching local people to build their livestock corrals from stone instead of using traditional turf corrals where the turf had been historically dug up from the scarce and ecological valuable wetlands. In addition to protecting their water security, the new stone corrals last for many years instead of the short-lived turf construction.

Another key takeaway for me was that so many of the world’s environmental problems are more properly construed as social problems. For example, forests are cut down, not to make money, but instead to provide heat and fuel for a family in need. Therefore social solutions like economic development to alleviate poverty or a technical fix like the introductions of more responsible charcoal production are truly critical. Thankfully, while there are certainly many in need, we do not experience that kind of poverty across our region.

Beyond Tibet, there were sessions on water markets, carbon markets, biodiversity offsets, and more. The Kinship cohort came to the program with projects from around the world, like Jen Chapman’s stopping invasive lionfish through commercial fishing in Belize, and Greg Martindale’s supporting economic development in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa by developing markets for wild-raised game meat produced on game farms, etc.

2014 Cohort (Taken by Matthew King at WWU)

The 2014 Cohort.

Back in Asheville, I am working with our Carbon Canopy partners and the Dogwood team to analyze our progress to date on our 12,500 acres forest carbon pilot projects as well as our 2,100 acres in development. The new ideas and examples I learned at Kinship weave into our at Dogwood work as well. And metaphorically, I will be working alongside my global Kinship cohort. Building new markets for ecosystem services like forest carbon is hard, particularly when, like here, the system of exploitation for forest products is so deeply ingrained in the region’s economy and culture. But we will persevere and come together to make our work more effective and strategic.

Thanks Kinship.

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Andrew Goldberg is an attorney who serves as Dogwood Alliance’s chief corporate negotiator and point person for large corporate paper consumers working to develop and implement environmental paper procurement policies. His focus is on forest products supply chain sustainability, corporate social responsibility and emerging market tools for forest conservation. A former Appalachian thru-hiker, he now logs miles chasing his children. He was a 2014 Kinship Conservation Fellow.
This article was originally posted on the Dogwood Alliance blog.

WEBINAR: From Sea to Fork

August 29, 2014 in Conservation Collaborations, Economics and Business, Ecosystems & Biodiversity

From Sea to Fork: How Industry Collaborations Drive Change in Sustainable Seafood from the Net to Your Table

 aug2014_seatoforkThis webinar explores two distinct yet complimentary organizations’ roles within the sustainable seafood movement: Sustainable Fisheries Partnership and Shedd Aquarium’s Right Bite program. Participants learn about the operations, scope, and mission of each and get an insider’s perspective on how collaboration between partners such as Shedd and SFP is vital to the success and growth of the sustainable seafood movement.

Aislinn Gauchay of Shedd and Kathryn Novak of SFP demonstrate how all players in the market – from NGO’s to consumers, and distributors to fishermen – must be committed to sustainability for there to be true and lasting change in the seafood industry.


WEBINAR – From Sea to Fork: How Industry Collaborations Drive Change in Sustainable Seafood from the Net to Your Table from Kinship Conservation Fellows on Vimeo.

Webinar Presenter Bios:

Headshot gauchayAislinn Gauchay, Manager, Great Lakes and Sustainability, oversees the strategic management, organization and implementation of the Great Lakes and Sustainability department and Shedd’s environmental initiatives, including: Great Lakes conservation, sustainable seafood, and general sustainable practices. Gauchay engages with diverse audiences from the Great Lakes community to build issue awareness and to position Shedd as a trusted voice and conservation leader. Gauchay also manages the Midwest’s leading sustainable seafood initiative, Right Bite, working with thousands of individuals, families and culinary professionals to increase the availability of sustainable seafood in Chicago’s vibrant marketplace. Gauchay began her career at Shedd in the Development Department as the Coordinator of Donor Relations and Special Events where she executed over 100 events annually including the Auxiliary Board’s primary fundraising event BLU.  Aislinn’s transition to conservation began when she became co-trip leader of Shedd Aquarium’s Iguana Research Expedition in the Bahamas in 2011 and 2012.  Aislinn was a member of New York University’s archaeological excavations team in Egypt’s Dakhleh Oasis and graduated with honors from Illinois Wesleyan University with a B.A. in Greek and Roman Studies.

Kathryn NovakKathryn Novak is the Director of Buyer Engagement at Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP). She joined SFP in 2009, just two years into the organization’s existence, and helped to shape the development of what is now the Buyer Engagement Division. In that role, Kathryn has been the architect of much of the way that SFP approaches its corporate Partners. In addition to overseeing the Buyer Engagement team, she serves as the liaison to nearly a dozen of SFP’s largest partners, including Walmart, Sam’s Club, High Liner, Walt Disney Parks & Resorts, and Publix Super Markets. She is responsible for helping them to develop and implement sustainable seafood policies, and works closely with their supply chains to coordinate engagement in fishery and aquaculture improvement projects. Previous to SFP, Kathryn began her conservation career at the Ocean Conservancy, where she worked with fishermen in the Gulf of Mexico to improve their fishing practices. Originally from Saratoga, New York, Kathryn has a B.A. in Communications from the State University of New York at Albany. She is based in Colorado.

WEBINAR: Business Planning Series – Revenue Models

August 21, 2014 in Economics and Business, Funding, Fundraising, and Finance, Leadership and Business Skills

july2014_biz2_emailerBuilding on the basics presented earlier this year, Ruth Norris, a member of the Kinship Fellows Faculty and executive coach and organizational effectiveness consultant, probes deeper into social sector business revenue models. Case studies represented by the work of Kinship Fellows: Arshiya Bose (2013), Sarah Charlop-Powers (2009), Scott Gillilan (2009), and Heather Webb (2009) aid in demonstrating models.

To see the first webinar in the Business Planning Series, click here.



WEBINAR: Business Planning Series Part 2: Revenue Model Case Studies from Kinship Conservation Fellows on Vimeo.

Norris, RuthRuth Norris is an executive coach and organizational effectiveness consultant whose clients include philanthropic foundations, bilateral and multilateral development assistance agencies, and social change organizations, particularly in the field of environmental conservation.  She has worked with the Skoll Awards for Social Entrepreneurship, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation’s Organizational Effectiveness program, grantees of Resources Legacy Fund and the S.D. Bechtel Jr. Foundation and was a leader in the development of programs funded by the World Bank Global Environment Facility and USAID/Enterprise of the Americas Initiative establishing national environmental endowments in developing countries.

Her consulting practice focuses on managing organizational culture and teams, business and revenue planning, and entrepreneurial approaches to conservation and social change, including messaging and marketing.  She holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and mass communications and a master’s degree in journalism. She has also completed extensive nondegree academic and practical studies in human and organizational psychology and behavior, as well as organizational management and leadership.  She is fluent in Spanish.