Sustainable Ocean Alliance Ocean Leaders Ron Tardiff and Patrick Cage are part of a team that received a grant to implement sustainable aquaculture in Kenya and The Gambia.
Patrick Cage will lead a project with Maxwell Azali and Ron Tardiff to create seaweed and sea cucumber farms in The Gambia and Kenya, providing sustainable revenue streams and farming practices for local people. Patrick and Ron connected at SOA's 2019 Our Ocean Youth Leadership Summit in Oslo, Norway.
From the UCSC News Center:
Seaweed is farmed in shallow coastal waters, where it is tied to ropes that are attached to stakes; tending and harvesting takes place at low tide. It is a low-tech, low-capital endeavor with a soft environmental impact. "It doesn't use fertilizers or freshwater or any of the agricultural chemicals that are ubiquitous around the world," said Cage. "It doesn't cause erosion, and seaweed actually marginally improves water quality."
Sea cucumbers, soft-bodied animals that look like cucumbers and are also called sandfish, feed by sifting sand on the ocean floor. They are farmed in "pens" to protect them from predators like crabs. Both products are farmed for export; seaweed is used to make thickeners used in toothpaste and other products, and is also sold as higher-value food products. Dried sea cucumbers are a popular food item in China and elsewhere, but they have been "heavily overfished" in Kenya, said Azali, adding, "The wild population is at risk, it is vulnerable."
Sustainability is at the core of both farming projects, and Cage and Azali will introduce "green" practices at every step.
For example, seaweed farming is somewhat established in Kenya, but variables of water temperature, light, and nutrient levels make it challenging. The farms also attract small herbivorous fish, like rabbit fish, which can be harvested by local fishermen. To mitigate potential negative impacts, Azali plans to introduce a modified basket trap with an "escape gate" that will allow juvenile fish to grow to adulthood.
Cage and Azali are collaborating with the Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute, the Gaining Research Experience in Africa for Tomorrow (GREAT) Institute in The Gambia, and Sustainable Ocean Alliance.
"Aquaculture intervention is about finding communities that are excited about new livelihood options, and engaging the community around their interests," said Cage. "It includes hands-on training in growing, processing, and selling the product. One of the promises of aquaculture is to give people a predictable source of income over time."
You can read the full story here.
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