Francesca Trotman’s deep-sea passion ignited at the age of 13 when she began her diving journey. As the years passed, her fascination with the underwater world grew, leading her to become a PADI Divemaster by age 19. Yet, it was her visit to Mozambique in 2013 that would change the course of her life. 

“During my first visit, I witnessed the heart-wrenching reality of sharks being killed in Mozambique’s fisheries.” This revelation propelled her, as a marine biology student, to delve into research. She spent four months alongside local shark fishermen, uncovering the dire sustainability issues plaguing the shark finning industry. Upon returning to England, her analysis confirmed the industry’s non-sustainability. At just 21 years old, Francesca established Love The Oceans (LTO) from her university dorm room in 2014. 

A woman and a man measure fish on a beach
Image courtesy of Kyra Kalageorgi

Initially, LTO’s focus centered on researching artisanal fisheries, particularly those targeting sharks and rays. Today, Francesca is pursuing a PhD in this field. But, LTO’s mission evolved into a more holistic approach, centered on creating a Marine Protected Area (MPA) in Jangamo Bay, driven by community-led conservation. 

LTO’s approach is community-centric, breaking barriers with gender equity initiatives, swimming and ocean literacy programs. Francesca says, “Our vision extends beyond conservation; it envisions self-sustainability for the community, making conservation independent of LTO’s presence. This vision involves improving education, including marine resource management, ecotourism, and sea safety, igniting a passion for marine life in the next generation.” 

Francesca Trotman helps a young girl learn to swim on her back
Image courtesy of Dean Kay Barry

Educational and community outreach have always been pivotal for LTO, leading to the Ocean Conservation Champion Program and Sustainable Livelihoods Program. These initiatives empower community members to take the lead in conservation efforts. Francesca explains, “In 2022, we launched the Aquaculture project, the first Mozambican women-owned ocean-based business in their area,” opening new horizons for local women. 

Since 2014, LTO’s marine conservation expeditions have provided opportunities for others to join their cause, learn about marine conservation, and contribute to their efforts. These expeditions fund a significant portion of their work and disseminate knowledge about their mission. 

Francesca Trotman sits on a beach with rubbish she has collected
Image courtesy of Stella Levantesi for Photographers Without Borders

LTO’s mission extends beyond Mozambique, aiming to create a scalable conservation model applicable in similar regions. They aspire to alleviate poverty, empower local communities, and safeguard the oceans. In partnership with PADI, they have made strides in expanding diving opportunities for their community through sponsored certifications, including the qualification of the first-ever Mozambican women from their district. Francesca and LTO are paving the way for more Mozambican PADI Professionals and marine conservationists. 

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