According to the article in Trouw:
” Sargassum is a group of different types of seaweed, which live partly on the bottom, but partly also floating, like huge, green islands on the Sargasso Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. “It fulfills an important ecological function there,” says , Jan van der Ploeg, the managing director of Stinapa, the foundation that manages nature parks on Bonaire, in the same article mentions:. “Those islands of floating seaweed are nurseries and shelters for fish. And young sea turtles also find protection there.”
But since 2011, the tide has been turning. The amount of sargassum is increasing, probably due to warming ocean waters and an increasing amount of nutrients that are discharged into the ocean via the Congo or Amazon River. This is not only felt in the Caribbean. Sargassum is also increasingly washed ashore in the Gulf of Mexico and off the coasts of South America and Africa. As Jan van der Ploeg in the same article mentions:
'Sargassum flowing into the bay in southeastern Bonaire eventually ends up in the mangroves. There it suffocates the plant roots. With several years in a row now that we've seen this problem on the island, you're noticing that the mangroves on the outer edge are dying off. The seagrass beds off the coast, which are already under pressure, are also suffering. And what about tourism. Rotting sargassum off the coast causes a cloud of rotten egg air to blow over the island for several months. Not really a recommendation.', "
Consortium Agreement –
Since last year we, as TogetherForTheBetterGood, have been in close connection with different faculties of the University of Wageningen. Today we signed the consortium agreement “Sustainable and Circular Organic Waste and Sargassum Management on Bonaire (BonCirc)” together with 6 different partners and 2 Knowledge Institutes.
A group of Wageningen researchers led by Ana Lopéz Contreras is looking for a technological solution to the problem. They were already able to brew biofuel on the basis of a comparable seaweed, which a car could drive on. “It works, but it’s not commercially viable yet,” says Lopéz Contreras ” according to this article of Trouw.
The goal of this project is to define and evaluate circular approaches for organic waste treatment and valorisation routes for Bonaire but applicable in the whole (Dutch) Caribbean. This includes Sargassum biomass that is collected prior to beaching, thereby preventing pollution of beach and natural areas. The circular use of the organic wastes and Sargassum for energy, compost or added value products will contribute to the overall sustainability of the Island and protect the corals and mangroves against pollution.
So what is our role in this so necessary research project?
As TogetherForTheBetterGood we are taking up the role to translate the research project into a practical business proposal and implementation of Bio-Waste to Bio-energy on Bonaire as a pilot.
We will keep you updated.