The Belize-based Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) says together with the Plant and Food Research Limited (PFR) of New Zealand, they have concluded a month-long tour of the Caribbean, gaining first-hand knowledge of how the region has been coping with the persistent Sargassum problem.
The delegations also visited Cancun, Mexico, with the CRFM indicating that the mission was taking place as Sargassum influxes for the month of June hit a new historical record, underscoring the urgency of scaling up collaboration and private-public partnerships to convert Sargassum into economically viable, climate resilient products.
“This tour marks an important milestone in the New Zealand-funded Sargassum Products for Climate Resilience in the Caribbean project, which seeks to mitigate the environmental and economic impacts of Sargassum seaweed influxes in affected Caribbean countries through the creation of inclusive value chains.
“The partners are now transitioning from phase 1, which involved raw material safety testing and harvesting operations review, to phase 2, which will focus on product and process development for Sargassum-derived products. Following the mission, the team is accessing the information gathered to formulate a plan of action for phase 2,” the CRFM said.
The delegations visited Barbados, St. Lucia, Dominican Republic, Belize, and Mexico, holding discussions with various stakeholders involved in the collection and management of the Sargassum.
“We were able to observe first-hand the effects of the Sargassum influx in the countries we visited. This allowed us to better understand the ongoing initiatives to utilize the Sargassum,” said Mrs. Beverley Sutherland, the CRFM project coordinator.
“The mission furthermore enabled us to make some critical connections. The CRFM said that based on the information gathered during the tour and the analysis done on the samples that were collected in the first phase of the project, the focus would be on the formulation of liquid fertilizers and construction supplies.
It said the June 2022 Outlook of Sargassum recently published by the University of South Florida Optical Oceanography Lab noted that the total Sargassum in the Caribbean Sea, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Central Atlantic area increased from 18.8 million tons in May 2022 to 24.2 million tons in June 2022, thus setting a new historical record.