About 10 days ago, the first of our research farms was deployed near Ray Caye off the coast of La Placencia, Belize. The effort was led by Seleem Chan, Seaweed Aquaculture Project Manager at TNC Belize, and Mariko Wallen, President of the Belize Women Seaweed Farmer’s Association (BWSFA). Ecological baseline monitoring was conducted prior to deployment of the farm. The “seed”, or small vegetative propagules of Eucheuma isiforme that we are hoping to raise to harvest size, was supplied by the BWSFA’s nearby seaweed nursery.
The crew had no trouble installing the 5-line array, despite having no previous experience with this particular farm design. There was enough starter Eucheuma to plant along one, 23 m (75 ft) longline. The propagules weighed approximately 100 g each and they were planted 20 cm apart to obtain a starting density of 0.58 kg/m. If all goes well, we hope to see the seaweed density reach 5 kg/m within 3 months’ time.
TNC Belize and the BWSFA will be returning to the site on a regular basis to remove any epiphytes (e.g., filamentous algae, sea urchins) and collect environmental data to help us quantify the ecosystem services provided the farm.
We are so excited to see this research farm deployed! Thank you Seleem and Mariko!