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#465414 - 05/29/13 06:04 AM The Alternative To Traditional Fisheries
Marty Offline
Several months ago, 7News presented you story with the pilot program in Placencia where the local fishermen were exploring alternative forms of livelihood.

They chose seaweed farming and brought the industry to Belize where they searched out a local market and found that it is a viable option to the slowly depleting fisheries. This weekend, we got a chance to see their seaweed farming facilities, the finished products, and we spoke to them about how the project has been progressing.

Daniel Ortiz reporting
Sidney Lopez Jr. - Chairman, PPCSL
"We went over to Glover's Reef - that's where we got the natural stock to start our pilot project beacuse it's over there in abundance with this group around 15 of us. We got the seed stock from Glover's and we took over ropes and planted the seed stocks on the rope. Then we brought them over to the main barrier reef over at Little Water Caye and Hatchette Caye where the two farms are located. This is how the process is - we plant it on the rope then we push it through and we break off a piece of seaweed and we put a little piece into the rope. We then have the nets that we sew to put over the rope - that is to protect it from when the weather gets rough."

It takes 3 months for the seaweed to be ready for harvesting. After that is done, the farmers then take the harvested product over to their drying campsites on Little Water Caye.

Sidney Lopez Jr.
"We take it to the island on Hatchette Caye then we dry it and this is how it looks when it is dried. So far we are only doing the drying process and the gel form. We soak it in water for an overnight and it turns into a gel. This is what most people use for the Seaweed shakes and for the food and smoothies."

So now that they’ve identified a local market, and perfected their techniques, the Placencia Producers Cooperative is looking to expand their operation. That’s where the shrimp trawler, "Northern II", comes in.

This battered vessel might not look like much currently, but just as how the cooperative saw the potential in seaweed farming, they now envision that it can be used to protect their investment while they enter phase 2 of their project.

Sidney Lopez Jr.
"In the pilot project we saw that there were some stealing of seaweed so we needed to be out there 24-7 so we asked Oceana if we could have gotten the Shrimp trawler. So we have Seaweed locally for sale; we are not going into the international market as yet because we don't have enough production to that. We only have enought to supply locally and that's why we're going into the second phase to expand the farms so we could have enough to export."

And Oceana Belize has embraced them for their environmentally friendly innovation. They are also proud that the "Northern II" has been adopted into a program that fits nicely into their policy.

Audrey Matura Shepherd - VP, Oceana Belize
"For a change we saw a fishing group that understood the concept that when it comes to fishing it is not like farming. Farming you go and plant something and you extract it. Fishing is you just go and take out and out of nature and then you're not thinking 'if I'm taking out then how is it replenishing?' So for a long time environmental groups have tried to teach fishers that you can't just keep on taking out, you have to figure out how to take enough out and leave sufficient to restock."

Sidney Lopez Jr.
"The expansion project is in Gladden Spit and it's far from any island so the trawler is going to station for us so it can be out there 24-7."

According to Oceana, the estimated value of the vessel is $250,000; the Placencia Producers Cooperative Society bought it for just $1. This is in line with Oceana’s policy to turn the trawler from a vessel used for the now-illegal bottom trawling, into something beneficial to the environment.

Viewers may remember that “Northern I” went to the Coastal Zone Management Authority and Institute in January of 2012, to be used as a marine research vessel.

Channel 7

#465417 - 05/29/13 06:11 AM Re: The Alternative To Traditional Fisheries [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Oceana Belize Supports Seaweed Farming

Back in 2010, Belize became one of three countries in the world to put a ban on deep sea bottom trawling. Two trawlers were bought by Oceana and one of them had been docked at the port for more than a year and on Saturday, the vessel, Northern II was handed over to the Placencia Producers Cooperative Society at a cost of just one dollars. Love News was in Placencia this weekend and Reporter Hipolito Novelo found out how the trawler will be used for a sustainable project.


“This vessel currently named, Northern II is one of two trawlers that was bought by Oceana Belize a few years ago when they successfully convinced the Government of Belize to put a band on deep sea bottom trawling. Since then Northern II has been anchored at the Belize Port but on Saturday it officially became the property of the Placencia Producers Cooperative Society, a group that was formed by 15 fishermen and registered in 1962. According to the Chairman of the cooperative, Sidney Lopez Jr. Northern II will be used for seaweed farming.”


“Back in 2005, we had a seaweed workshop; guys from St. Lucia came over and taught us how to plant the seaweed and ropes. We used to harvest seaweed a long time ago but It was harvested from the wild. It was not sustainable and so we wanted to do something that will keep giving; we saw the need for something or somewhere for the fishermen, the farmers to be on site and that is where we came up with the idea to ask Oceana through Lisa, Lisa was the one that was making contact for us for the shrimp trawler that they had, so that our fishermen, our farmers could be out on site 24/7.”


“The pilot phase of this seaweed farming project has been completed and will now move on to the expansion phase. The cooperative is producing about two hundred pounds of dry seaweed per month from the twenty farms that are located in Little Water Caye and Hatchet Cayes, says Lopez Jr. At the moment though, that amount can only supply the local market but plans are to produce enough seaweed for export.”


“This is how the process is; we just plant it on the rope, push it through, break off a piece of the seaweed from a big head like this and you put a little piece into the rope, as you can see in the pictures and then we have the nets that they were telling you about. You sew some nets to put over the rope that is to protect it from when the weather gets rough so it doesn’t break off. When it grows big like what you see here, after this process, when it grows we clip it off the ropes and the small piece remains and that is what is going to regenerate and then we take it to the island on Hatchet Caye; we dry it and this is how it looks when it’s dried.”


“The trawler was a property of the Northern Fishermen Cooperative Society Limited and Oceana bought the Northern II along with another vessel through an agreement with the cooperative and the Belize Bank for an overall value of $800,000.00 but the price that the Placencia Producers Cooperative paid was far less - just one dollar and according to the Vice President of Oceana Belize, Audrey Matura Sheppard, two major criteria were looked at: sustainability of the project and financial stability of the cooperative.”


“For a change we saw a fishing group that understood the concept that when it comes to fishing, it is not like farming. In farming, you go and plant something and extract it; in fishing, you just go and take out and take out and take out for nature and then you’re not thinking that if you’re taking out, how is it replenishing and so for a long time environmental groups have said this and tried to teach fishers that you can’t keep on taking out, you need to be able to figure out how to take out enough and leave sufficient for it to restock. Well this project, the seaweed project is really like farming that’s why it’s called seaweed farming - you go and you put in and you only take out what you have put in; now that is sustainable development and that’s one of the major attractions for us, the other thing we had to look at: do they have the capacity to actually manage these trawlers, sustain it and stuff like that and the answer was yes because obviously these are sea fearing people. Mr. Mendez, in terms of administrative is very good, he’s very financially accountable; Mr. Sidney, the Chairman is very forward, taking along his board and I think if they are the leadership then definitely they can impact the membership. So, it was easy for us to see their reaching out was a genuine one and so we had to support a project like this that is very community based. So, a lot of people asks us what will it cost them to get the trawlers and I say, it’s only one dollar; I think it’s going to be their best dollar spent ever.”


“This boat is equipped to sleep or to assist at least fifteen to twenty persons with good sleeping areas conveniently. She has everything on board in reference to kitchen; communication systems and she’s very equipped to assist in areas whereby educational and environmental programs will come out here and they will have a safe place to actually base out and do whatever research they need to do. It is the exact purpose and it has the perfect environment because it is a steel hull and it’s the perfect place to dry seaweed.”

The first trawler was donated to the Coastal Zone Management Authority and Institute.



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