Jamaica turns to farming seaweed as fish stocks decline

[Jamaica] New harvest encourages marine life and improves the catch across the region. In face of climate change and dwindling earnings, Jamaican fisherman Ceylon Clayton began a sea moss growing project, which brought new opportunities to his community.

Clayton is one of the many thousands of fishers in the Caribbean who are part of the fishing industry that earns around US$2 billion a year. But experts said the industry is already fully developed or over-exploited.

When the community could no longer support their families fishing on the narrow Negril shelf in western Jamaica or fish in deeper waters, they began farming seaweed.

Clayton said within two and a half years after they started the project, there was a noticeable increase in the number and size of lobsters being caught from the bay.

“When we were harvesting the sea moss we noticed that there were lots of young lobsters, shrimp and juvenile fish in the roots. They were eating there and the big fish were also coming back into the bay to eat the small fish,” Clayton said.

Not only is the seaweed thriving and teeming with marine life, it is also improving fishing in around Little Bay and the neighbouring villages. Clayton said more success could come from growing, processing and effectively marketing the product.

Two years ago, Clayton and others ran out of money to protect their “nursery” and preserve the recovery. Now they want to build on their previous trade under the climate change adaptation project implemented across the region by the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC).

“The project seeks to minimise the adverse impacts from climate change by restoring the protective services offered by natural eco-systems like coastal mangrove forests and coral reefs in some areas, while restoring and building man-made structures such as groynes and revetments in others,” said Robert Kerr, technical consultant to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

The Caribbean is heavily dependent on tourism and other marine services and industries that are expected to be heavily impacted by climate change.

“The seas, reefs and coasts on which all Caribbean people depend are under threat from coral bleaching, ocean acidification, rising sea temperature, and storms,” the Caribbean Marine Climate Change Report Card 2017.

Aside from Jamaica, Grenada, Saint Lucia and St. Vincent as well as the Grenadines, are beneficiaries under the project, which received a US$15.4 million grant funding from  the German Development Bank (KfW).

The project will end in 2018, by when all beneficiaries would be well on their way to achieving both the community’s and the project’s goal.

“The project is a demonstration of Germany’s commitment to assisting the region’s vulnerable communities to withstand the impacts of climate change,” said Jens Mackensen, KfW’s head of Agriculture and Natural Resources Division for Latin America and Caribbean.

 

Photo: Jamaica Turns to Farming Seaweed as Fish Stocks Decline

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