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Sargassum Symposium to Discuss Sustainable Management and Solutions

For Release Upon Receipt - Monday, November 19, 2018

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Meeting will focus on improving inter-sectoral cooperation, coordination and collaboration for progress.

This year, the Caribbean has experienced another large-scale influx of sargassum, widely regarded by many as an economic and ecological threat.

Now considered the 'new normal' in the region, these periodic events have significant negative implications for multiple sectors including fisheries, tourism, health and environment.

In order to support the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) in adapting and coping with the region’s sargassum problem, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and The University of the West Indies (The UWI) will jointly host the Second Regional Sargassum Symposium, from November 21 to 22, 2018 at The 3Ws Pavilion, The UWI, Cave Hill. The two-day meeting will convene government officials, academia, civil society and representatives from development agencies, who will comprehensively examine and assess sargassum’s threats and opportunities, and seek to determine approaches for enhanced communication and collaboration between sectors, including fisheries and tourism, at multiple levels across the region.

Speakers at the opening ceremony include the Honourable Kirk Humphrey, Minister of Maritime Affairs and Blue Economy in Barbados; Dr. Patrick McConney, Director of the Centre for Resource Management and Environment Studies (CERMES); Dr. Janice Cumberbatch, Lecturer at CERMES and Dr. Iris Monnereau, Regional Project Coordinator of the Climate Change Adaptation of the Eastern Caribbean Fisheries Sector Project (CC4FISH).

Session topics will include socio-economic impacts of sargassum on Caribbean fisheries and tourism, biodiversity implications, good practices for managing sargussum influxes, innovative uses (including products and marketing), techniques for managing sargassum as both a hazard and an opportunity and the different needs in terms of stakeholder communication.


Since 2011, thousands of tons of sargassum seaweed have piled as high as three metres on some beaches and in the nearshore waters of many Caribbean countries. Sargassum influxes have become regular occurrences, due in part to climate change and variability, and have triggered much concern about long-term implications for the region’s fisheries and tourism sectors. The situation has prompted governments, civil society and the private sector to evaluate strategies that will help them to cope and adapt.

Despite these concerns, sargassum has offered economic opportunities, ranging from agriculture to manufacturing, thus encouraging innovation and entrepreneurship. Stakeholders have also considered sargassum as an abundant raw material with potential for windfall gains, while being mindful of issues such as biodiversity impacts, coastal management, fisheries and tourism livelihoods, foreign exchange earnings, public health, innovation, entrepreneurship opportunities and more.

In 2015, the first regional effort to address the challenges and opportunities associated with sargassum was held at The UWI Cave Hill. Discussions from the one-day symposium produced a management brief titled, Golden Tides: Management Best Practices for Influxes of Sargassum in the Caribbean. The document provided the most recent information on the sargassum influxes, and gave guidance on sustainably managing the seaweed, including potential economic and ecological value, collection and disposal options, and disseminating information to the public.

Since then, a number of agencies and individuals have made advancements in theory and practice surrounding the issue. This Symposium provides an opportunity for stakeholders to learn and share the latest developments with sargassum and to collaboratively chart a way forward on several fronts to address the threats and take advantage of the opportunities.

View the livestream here:


For more information, please contact:

Shireen Cuthbert

Communications Consultant

FAO Subregional Office for the Caribbean


Chelston Lovell

Communications Officer

Office of Public Information

University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus



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