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Sargassum seaweed has been inundating Caribbean beaches since 2011. (Photo: CRFM 2019)

 

Sargassum Products for Climate Resilience to mitigate harsh impacts on Caribbean States

 

 

BELIZE CITY, 2 MARCH 2021 (CRFM)—The Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) and Plant & Food Research, a New Zealand Crown Research Institute, will host a virtual training workshop on Wednesday, 3 March 2021. The session—which will be conducted with the assistance of Prof Mona Webber of the Marine Science Centre, UWI, Mona Campus, Jamaica—will focus on techniques for harvesting, handling, species identification and processing of Sargassum seaweed for initial evaluation.

It will be attended by the four target countries for field work, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, and Jamaica, as well as other interested CARICOM States and organisations such as CARDI, CERMES UWI, University of Belize, the Caribbean Network of Fisherfolk Organisation (CNFO) and IAEA.

The training supports the effective implementation of the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade-funded project entitled, Developing Sargassum Products for Climate Resilience in the Caribbean, due to commence in April 2021. In addition to the target countries, other CRFM Member States will benefit either directly or indirectly from the project, which aims to mitigate the environmental and economic impacts of Sargassum seaweed influxes in affected Caribbean countries through the creation of inclusive value chains.

Since 2011, periodic influxes of massive quantities of Sargassum seaweed have been entering Caribbean waters, resulting in substantial economic losses and adverse impacts on human and environmental health.

The Outlook of 2021 Sargassum blooms in the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico, released by the University of South Florida Optical Oceanography Lab on at the end of February 2021 indicated that, “…the eastern [Caribbean Sea] will likely experience increased amounts of Sargassum in March and April 2021, while some of the Lesser Antilles Islands will continue experiencing beaching events on both their windward leeward beaches." It forecasted that the situation could continue into summer, with the overall bloom intensity possibly like that of 2019.

In September 2020, the CRFM entered into a 3-year collaborative agreement with Plant & Food Research, to address Sargassum seaweed influxes in affected Caribbean countries. Plant & Food Research and the CRFM are collaborating to explore the creation of new technologies and value chains from the Sargassum seaweed. The project aims to develop Sargassum-derived product prototypes and production processes, including a commercialisation strategy to support its marketing.

 For more information, view the project brochure here.

Published in Press release

 

In September 2020, the CRFM entered into a 3-year collaborative agreement with Plant & Food Research, to address Sargassum seaweed influxes in affected Caribbean countries. Plant & Food Research, a New Zealand Crown Research Institute, and the CRFM, an inter-governmental organization which promotes and facilitates the responsible utilization of the Caribbean's fisheries and other aquatic resources, are collaborating to explore the creation of new technologies and value chains from marine biomass, particularly the Sargassum seaweed.

  

The overall aim of the project is to mitigate the environmental and economic impacts of Sargassum seaweed influxes in affected Caribbean countries through the creation of inclusive value chains for Sargassum seaweed.

 The CRFM has produced a leaflet with further details. View it online below or download a PDF copy HERE.

 

Published in Brochure

 

BELIZE CITY, BELIZE, FRIDAY, 25 January 2019 (CRFM)—The Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) has initiated a regional fact-finding study to document the record-breaking influx of Sargassum seaweed in the Caribbean Sea in 2018, and the impacts this phenomenon has been having on countries in the region since 2011.

The fact-finding survey is funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), that has coordinated official development assistance from Japan to CARICOM States for over two decades.

Over the past 7 years, massive Sargassum influxes have been having adverse effects on national and regional economies in the Caribbean, with substantial loss of livelihoods and economic opportunities, primarily in the fisheries and tourism sectors. Large Sargassum influxes had been experienced in this region in 2011, 2014 and 2015, but it reached unprecedented levels in 2018, with more Sargassum affecting the Caribbean for a longer period of time than had previously been observed.

It is estimated that clean-up could cost the Caribbean at least $120 million in 2018. The CRFM Ministerial Council adopted the “Protocol for the Management of Extreme Accumulations of Sargassum on the Coasts of CRFM Member States” in 2016. The protocol has been guiding the drafting of national Sargassum management protocols for Grenada, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, with support from the CC4FISH project, an initiative of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

In the coming weeks, the CRFM Secretariat will lead extensive consultations with key national stakeholders in the public and private sector, including interests in fisheries, tourism, and environment, as well as with coastal communities and other related sectors. Remote surveys and field missions in select Member States will provide a broad knowledge-base on exactly how the phenomenon has been affecting the countries.

 

PHOTO-Consett Bay

Consett Bay, on the east coast of Barbados, also experienced major Sargassum inundation during 2018. (Photo: CRFM)

 

Through the project, the CRFM will identify heavily affected areas, the time and frequency of extreme blossoms and accumulation of Sargassum, the quantity of accumulation, and elements associated with it, such as the species of fish and types of debris. A review of the history and scope of the impacts (both positive and negative) will be conducted and the extent of financial losses quantified. The CRFM will also identify research and countermeasures taken by the national governments, regional organizations, research institutions, and other development partners and donors. Finally, the study will suggest actions and scope of support that Japan may provide to help the countries address the problem.

During the study, the CRFM will engage other regional institutions such as Caribbean Community Climate Change Center (CCCCC), the Centre for Resource Management and Environmental Studies at the University of the West Indies (CERMES-UWI), the Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology, (CIMH), the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO), the Caribbean Agriculture Research and Development Institute (CARDI), and the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Commission. The CRFM will also engage development partners which have been doing Sargassum-related work in the region, including the FAO, UN Environment Regional Coordinating Unit, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and IOCARIBE, the Sub-Commission for the Caribbean and Adjacent Regions of Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC), an agency of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

According to the CRFM, Sargassum influxes disrupt fishing operations through gear entanglement and damage; impeding fishing and other vessels at sea; reducing catches of key fisheries species, such as flyingfish and adult dolphinfish; changing the availability and distribution of coastal and pelagic fisheries resources; and disrupting coastal fishing communities and tourism activities.

However, this challenge has also inspired innovative interventions, and opportunities for revenue-generation include value-addition through the production of fertilizers, pharmaceuticals, animal feed, and biofuel. The CRFM notes, though, that the financial or other benefits remain to be quantified.

The Sargassum phenomenon is believed to be driven by several factors, including climate change and increased sea surface temperature; change in regional winds and ocean current patterns; increased supply of Saharan dust; and nutrients from rivers, sewage and nitrogen-based fertilizers.

Published in Press release

BELIZE CITY, BELIZE, FRIDAY, 25 January 2019 (CRFM)—The Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) has initiated a regional fact-finding study to document the record-breaking influx of Sargassum seaweed in the Caribbean Sea in 2018, and the impacts this phenomenon has been having on countries in the region since 2011.

 

The fact-finding survey is funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), that has coordinated official development assistance from Japan to CARICOM States for over two decades.

 

Over the past 7 years, massive Sargassum influxes have been having adverse effects on national and regional economies in the Caribbean, with substantial loss of livelihoods and economic opportunities, primarily in the fisheries and tourism sectors. Large Sargassum influxes had been experienced in this region in 2011, 2014 and 2015, but it reached unprecedented levels in 2018, with more Sargassum affecting the Caribbean for a longer period of time than had previously been observed.

 

It is estimated that clean-up could cost the Caribbean at least $120 million in 2018. The CRFM Ministerial Council adopted the “Protocol for the Management of Extreme Accumulations of Sargassum on the Coasts of CRFM Member States” in 2016. The protocol has been guiding the drafting of national Sargassum management protocols for Grenada, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, with support from the CC4FISH project, an initiative of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

 

In the coming weeks, the CRFM Secretariat will lead extensive consultations with key national stakeholders in the public and private sector, including interests in fisheries, tourism, and environment, as well as with coastal communities and other related sectors. Remote surveys and field missions in select Member States will provide a broad knowledge-base on exactly how the phenomenon has been affecting the countries.

 

PHOTO-Consett Bay

 

Through the project, the CRFM will identify heavily affected areas, the time and frequency of extreme blossoms and accumulation of Sargassum, the quantity of accumulation, and elements associated with it, such as the species of fish and types of debris. A review of the history and scope of the impacts (both positive and negative) will be conducted and the extent of financial losses quantified. The CRFM will also identify research and countermeasures taken by the national governments, regional organizations, research institutions, and other development partners and donors. Finally, the study will suggest actions and scope of support that Japan may provide to help the countries address the problem.

 

During the study, the CRFM will engage other regional institutions such as Caribbean Community Climate Change Center (CCCCC), the Centre for Resource Management and Environmental Studies at the University of the West Indies (CERMES-UWI), the Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology, (CIMH), the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO), the Caribbean Agriculture Research and Development Institute (CARDI), and the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Commission. The CRFM will also engage development partners which have been doing Sargassum-related work in the region, including the FAO, UN Environment Regional Coordinating Unit, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and IOCARIBE, the Sub-Commission for the Caribbean and Adjacent Regions of Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC), an agency of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

 

According to the CRFM, Sargassum influxes disrupt fishing operations through gear entanglement and damage; impeding fishing and other vessels at sea; reducing catches of key fisheries species, such as flyingfish and adult dolphinfish; changing the availability and distribution of coastal and pelagic fisheries resources; and disrupting coastal fishing communities and tourism activities.

 

However, this challenge has also inspired innovative interventions, and opportunities for revenue-generation include value-addition through the production of fertilizers, pharmaceuticals, animal feed, and biofuel. The CRFM notes, though, that the financial or other benefits remain to be quantified.

 

The Sargassum phenomenon is believed to be driven by several factors, including climate change and increased sea surface temperature; change in regional winds and ocean current patterns; increased supply of Saharan dust; and nutrients from rivers, sewage and nitrogen-based fertilizers.

Published in Press release

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