UB ERI, UWI and Stakeholders Examine Sea Cucumber as a Viable Option for Belize Aquaculture
On Thursday June 30, 2016, 25 stakeholders of the Belize aquaculture industry met at the UB ERI to obtain first-hand information on Sea Cucumber production and to examine the support and additional investments required to harness greater returns from this burgeoning specialty export market. The forum involved representatives from the Ministry of Economic Development, Petroleum, Investment, Trade and Commerce, the Belize Fisheries Department, the Aquaculture Unit, Sea cucumber and seafood exporters, and Shrimp and Tilapia Farm representatives.
Stakeholders keenly listened to presentations on various aspects of Sea cucumbers including their uses, market overview, current technologies used for sea cucumber aquaculture, sea cucumber regulations and sea cucumber processing. Stakeholders’ interest was high when Dr. Arlenie Rogers, Principal Investigator on sea cucumber research in Belize at UB and organizer of the forum, shared her extensive international and local research experience on sea cucumber reproduction, processing, markets and aquaculture developments in the world. Mr. Ramirez of the Rio Grande Fishing Cooperative added the practical hands-on Belizean experience and insights of sea cucumber exports. Mr. Mauro Gongora of the Fisheries Department discussed the regulatory aspects of the fishery.
Contributions came from a wide cross section of stakeholders in attendance. The discussions centered on sea cucumber culture development and positioning for external funding for developing sea cucumber production and export. Stakeholders at the forum expressed an immediate need for additional knowledge sharing on practical aspects of sea cucumber production for a hatchery, and there was also a suggestion for processing beyond food to include the production of pharmaceuticals and cosmetics from sea cucumbers.
Mrs. Indira Jagassar, Business Development Manager at the UWI, St. Augustine Campus, Trinidad and Tobago and CARPIMS Mobility Scholar presently visiting UB was also in attendance gathering ideas on what might be the critical aspects for developing a proposal in order to secure funding to facilitate the further development of the sea cucumber business. Funding aspects of the initiative benefited from the general guidance of Mrs. Jagassar who through her years of experience in grant funding discussed the aspects of positioning the strengths and needs of the industry for international funding.
The discussions were very encouraging and a planned sea cucumber aquaculture workshop will follow in August. Stakeholders had the shared view that the forum achieved its purpose of stimulating much discussion on the way forward. Dr. Elma Kay, UB-ERI’s Administrative Director gave her full support to the initiative and recognized it as a landmark achievement in moving research forward for practical and viable applications.
To learn more about the Sea Cucumber Fishery in Belize contact Dr. Arlenie Rogers at email@example.com
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