SSB Invests in Sargassum Prevention Project in the Hol Chan Marine Reserve
A large cluster of Sargassum is expected to make its way to the Caribbean region in the coming months, which can pose an environmental threat to Belize. According to a CNN report, scientists and experts are concerned about the detrimental impacts that this five-thousand-mile bloom of seaweed can have on human health and marine life. The Social Security Board (SSB) made a significant investment in the Hol Chan Marine Reserve to address the Sargassum problem that has been plaguing the country’s coastline. The partnership aims to the issue by managing the influx of Sargassum. CEO of SSB Deborah Ruiz said that this is a critical partnership with the protected area managers to establish a barrier system that will prevent the seaweed from reaching the shore and she is fruitful that the efforts will be fruitful.
Deborah Ruiz, Chief Executive Officer, Social Security Board: “Well you know we are always looking for loan opportunities and Hol Chan did approach us in terms of getting a $3.5 million dollars as you know the Sargassum is a problem for the water front areas especially the cayes in the height of tourist season. So they’re proposal and based on their research the Sargassum barriers are not fool proof because it depends on the monitoring of it but if I recall correctly they will be putting the Sargassum barriers in three main channels that hopefully will direct and minimize the impact on the shoreline so yes that is there. They have in fact approached us in terms of their numbers, the viability as you know is tied to the tourism numbers and we have seen a rebound, it’s not back where it is pre-covid but the numbers have significantly increased and if I recall correctly the BTB numbers indicate at least about 173,000 visitors and based on the numbers that we see we crunch the numbers repayability is there, they have the collateral , they did have an issue in terms or recent past but those numbers and internal controls have been put in place to our satisfaction that we feel it’s a reasonable investment to make and it certainly will higher than what we would get if we leave our money in the bank 6.75% I believe is the rate that was agreed.”