The Belize Trade and Investment Development Service (BELTRAIDE), through its EXPORTBelize Unit, today signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with The Nature Conservancy, a non-profit organisation based in the USA, which seeks closer collaboration in encouraging a sustainable seaweed aquaculture industry in Belize.
Under the MOU, BELTRAIDE and The Nature Conservancy will establish a working committee, which in addition to sharing data and information, will work with fishermen, the Coral Caye Ltd. and the Placencia Co-op Society to develop a comprehensive business plan for a sustainable seaweed aquaculture business.
This business plan will include a curriculum that provides information on best-practices that highlight conservation values, facilitates replication, ensures quality assurance and control of seaweed production as well as provide a long-term system to share lessons across the country and the region. Best practices will also target maximizing benefits to wild conch and lobster populations and coral reefs. This includes spatial mapping of priority sites to capture resilient reefs and incorporation of nursery habitats within replenishment zones.
The MOU also aims to promote the development of a Centre of Excellence to deliver the curriculum through local and international partnerships with fishers, academia, private sector, government and non-government organisations.
Furthermore, both organisations will jointly pursue a loan scheme with credit unions and other local financial institutions to increase access to financing for fisher folks. It will also identify international markets for products developed under this joint initiative.
The MOU was signed by Ms Lejia Melanie Gideon, General Manager, Enterprise andInnovation, Beltraide and Mr Alejandro Martinez, Country Representative of The Nature Conservancy. The signing was witnessed by Ms Shahera McKoy, Manager EXPORTBelize, BELTRAIDE and Ms Julianne Robinson from The Nature Conservancy.