There is Money in Seaweed for Fishers

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Updated: August 9, 2016

Seaweed mariculture is an avenue being explored as a way for fishers to increase their income.  Recently at the 4th International Marine Conservation Congress (IMCC) held in St John’s Newfoundland, Canada, Julianne Robinson from The Nature Conservancy explained how Belize’s waters can offer more than just fishing income to support those living in coastal communities.  A report on this congress meeting spoke of how fishing has long formed part of the Belize culture, providing an important source of food and income for its many coastal communities. The article reads, quote, “Like many coastal nations, Belize’s fisheries have seen declines in fisheries from over exploitation and destructive fishing practices. Increasing coastal development and climate change impacts on the ocean adds to the pressures on the low-tech, small-scale fisheries that dominate Belize’s coastal communities. Income diversification is increasingly becoming a necessity.”  End of quote.  Love News understands that Robinson was in country and had worked with the Placencia Fishermen Cooperative and together, they had developed and tested pilot mariculture farms with a focus on the red seaweed.  The article goes on to read, quote, “Whilst seaweed as a food item forms part of the mariculture business (including in the locally consumed ‘seaweed shakes’), the Placencia seaweed farmers are looking to expand their market with ‘value-added’ products, such as seaweed-based soaps, or seaweed-based thickeners for cooking.  Local demand for the seaweed and seaweed-based products is high – and still growing, though as Robinson was keen to point out that, demand isn’t just restricted to the local market. Globally demand for seaweed is projected to increase at a rate of around 10 per cent per annum, offering the potential for significant economic growth for those wishing to farm seaweed. The challenge for the Placencia seaweed farmers is to scale-up its production to meet demand, and break in to the export market.  The Belize’s Placencia Fishermen Cooperative’s development of mariculture has also had a number of other benefits. Many of the seaweed farms provide work for women, helping to improve social equity in coastal communities.”  End of quote.