The future of seaweed in Belize

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As we strive to become a more sustainable country, we must often seek alternatives to our current practices and utilizing resources we already have, but do not use, in our environment. It is to those ends that the Belize Trade and Investment Development Service (BELTRAIDE) has sought to connect producers, developers, and consumers to develop the country’s seaweed industry. On Friday, November 8, 2019, a “Ministerial and Private Sector Seaweed Mission” was carried out where industry stakeholders were taken to a seaweed farm at Little Water Caye, Placencia in southern Belize. There, participating stakeholders learned of the marine algae’s benefits-which go well beyond the well-known seaweed drink-its challenges, and a potential seaweed industry in Belize.
Seaweed farming is seen as sustainable alternative to many of Belize’s sources of income, including farming. Shahera McKoy, Manager, Export Belize, BELTRAIDE, says that besides being sustainable, it is also anticipated that the seaweed industry, once developed, will be beneficial across the industry. BELTRAIDE is working along with the Nature Conservancy, Belize Women’s Seaweed Farmers Association, the Belize Fisheries Department, and the Placencia Producers Cooperative Society Limited to grow the industry. Julia Robinson, Oceans Manager at the Nature Conservancy, says that it is integral that industry stakeholders understand the importance of seaweed not only as it pertains to economics but also to the environment. Seaweed, while in Belize we might just see it as a nuisance or something to make a drink with, provides homes to marine species. “It provides important habitat for ecological and commercial species and it’s also, we are starting to see that it could play a role in mitigating against climate change. There is a lot of benefits behind the seaweed. It’s not just about the industry, but it’s also about the environment,” she said.