Fostering Capacity Building and Knowledge Transfer Towards a Sustainable Seaweed Mariculture Industry Empowering Women and Youth in Belize and Mauritius
Fostering Capacity Building and Knowledge Transfer Towards a Sustainable Seaweed Mariculture Industry Empowering Women and Youth in Belize and Mauritius
Seaweed Mariculture in Belize was pioneered by Placencia fishers and this coastal community continues to be at the forefront of the development of this industry. Seaweed Mariculture has now expanded to the Turneffe Atoll Marine Reserve (TAMR) to work with fishers there. One of GEF SGP’s focus is to address the impacts of climate change and building resilient livelihoods in local communities. This project falls under Operational Phase 7’s (OP7) strategic priority of Community Landscape and Seascape Conservation as it seeks to empower the livelihoods of women. The purpose of this project is three-fold. Firstly, this project will seek to strengthen the Mariculture production capacity of women in coastal communities through a South-South knowledge exchange. This project will contribute to the building of local livelihoods and economic diversification of coastal communities directly by working with seaweed farmers throughout the country and with a special focus on women farmers. In collaboration with the National Seaweed Working Group, the project will also seek to ensure that there is a conducive government framework for the long-term development of the industry. Lastly, it will take advantage of learning opportunities with organizations and communities in Mauritius who are also involved in the production of seaweed, scientific research into seaweed and the development of value-added products. Specifically, this project will expand seaweed farms, build the commercial and operational capacity of the Belize Women’s Seaweed Farmer Association (BWSFA) and establish a learning community for the institutionalization of knowledge being gained in the early stages of the sector, in order to support long term industry growth.
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Project Snapshot

Turneffe Atoll Sustainability Association
Area Of Work:
Grant Amount:
US$ 150,000.00
Co-Financing Cash:
Co-Financing in-Kind:
US$ 224,440.00
Project Number:
Currently under execution
Project Characteristics and Results
Gender Focus
Access to, use of and management of natural resources is a gendered process. So is project implementation. The roles of men and women and the relationships between men and women in a particular context affects their livelihood strategies. The involvement of women in the seaweed sector is a new occurrence. Seaweed farming was pioneered by the Placencia Fishermen’s Cooperative, who are all made up of men and women were not involved. The emergence of the BWSFA makes it a potential competitor to more experience men in seaweed farming. The move into seaweed farming for men was a much more natural extension of seafaring activities as compared to women as they would have already been on the water for fishing purposes and would have had access to the equipment such as boats. Women on the other hand do not have easy access to this equipment. Consequently, women face social and economic barriers to involvement in the industry. Gender analysis carried out with members of the BWSFA shows that while women perform in productive roles, they have second layer of social reproductive roles. The role of men on the other hand are predominantly focus on productive activities and do not necessarily carry out social reproductive roles as much as women. These put the women at a disadvantage especially with their time burden for other activities such as being involved in project activities.
Emphasis on Sustainable Livelihoods
Environmental (ecological) Seaweed farming is one of the most ecofriendly activities in Mariculture. It is not expected that this project will have any significant negative effects on the environment. Instead, farms have so far proven to be new habitats for many marine species including fish and invertebrates. Marine surveys have shown increased fish biodiversity in and around the farms compared to areas where no farms are located and has shown no negative impacts to the benthic communities. Social (empowerment) The project will be working specifically with women and fishers from coastal communities. The persons who will be involved in this project are already involved in seaweed farming albeit on a small scale. The aim of this project is to scale up their current activities in order to begin to achieve tangible income benefits from the farms. This project will not only contribute to achieving this aim but also empower women economically in order to gain independent livelihoods. Economic (community livelihood) Coastal communities are dependent on fishing and tourism as their main livelihood activities. Existing fisheries are under tremendous pressure from a multitude of sources and many fishers today claim that their production has consistently been falling along with their incomes. On the other hand, due to the effects of COVID19, tourism has essential come to standstill along with all the services that community members used to provide such as food preparation, hospitality services, tours, guiding, taxis and so on. Not only is seaweed production an opportunity for income generation for residents of coastal communities, it is also an opportunity for the diversification of the economy of coastal communities and can help in post COVID-19 pandemic recovery of the national economy. There are markets both locally and internationally for seaweed and this project will contribute to the development of these markets in a significant way.
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SGP Country office contact

Mr. Leonel Requena
(501) 822-2462


UNDP Belize,3rd Floor, Lawrence Nicholas Building Complex ,P.O. Box 53,South Ring Road,
Belmopan, Central America