Sargatopía: Sargassum-Based Restoration Economy
Sargassum is a pernicious genus of seaweed that is characterized by odorous methane-releasing blooms. It regularly inundates the pristine beaches of Culebra. Our project aims to implement a restoration-based economic model for the island that transforms this noxious and ecologically detrimental substance into a lucrative business endeavor. Sargatopia would operate as an island-wide business network that manufactures sellable products from harvested and processed Sargassum. After the seaweed is collected at a series of beach harvesting sites, it would be transported to a processing center, where it could be cleaned, dried, packaged and stored. The refined Sargassum would be stockpiled in barrels until it could be used at a makerspace in Dewey to fabricate a range of products – from construction blocks to fertilizer. Local youth and tourists alike can engage with this project through after-school programs and volunteer camps. Such opportunities will allow local high-school students to explore viable long-term career options in Culebra. In addition to this a market will sell locally-made sustainable Sargassum products to tourists and local residents. Not only will this proposal clean up beaches and directly create jobs, it will also contribute to other local economic initiatives including agriculture and the construction industry. It will ultimately reduce Culebra’s dependence on foreign imports for building materials, food, and energy.