The Nature Conservancy has been partnering with the Government of Belize, non-profits, the private sector and local fishers – including women – to develop an innovative sustainable seaweed mariculture industry that provides ecosystem benefits in addition to alternative income.
Sitting at the table one evening in Placencia, I met the women who would soon form the Belize Women’s Seaweed Farmers Association (BWSFA). I was inspired by their stories and their vision for wanting to uplift their community. Each of these women came with their own ideas but they all shared a passion for the ocean, their country and seaweed farming.
The Nature Conservancy in Belize has been working with local partners over the last five years to help develop a sustainable seaweed industry that can provide social, economic and even ecological benefits to coastal communities and marine ecosystems. While, globally, seaweed is a commodity often farmed and sold for processing into carrageenan or agar, in Belize it is highly valued for local uses in cooking and as a nutritious ingredient in fresh smoothies. Farmers can even obtain up to US $15/lb of dried seaweed.