The History of St. Lucian Sea Moss

Sea Moss is a type of marine plant also known as algae or seaweed. In the Caribbean, there are about 10 different types of algae or Sea Moss that are used for the preparation of drinks, beverages, food and cosmetics. Some of these products include toothpaste, shampoo, soaps and creams for the skin, ice cream, puddings, jam, Sea Moss powder, and capsules. Furthermore, reamoss is known for its nutritious value. Some of the nutrients of Sea Moss include iron, calcium, protein, sugars and carbohydrates.

In Saint Lucia, three Sea Moss species have been grown, Eucheuma Cotton being the most commercially successful variant. Gracilaria terete (1980s) and Eucheuma isiforme (19905) have been grown in the past but were discontinued due to their slow growth. Sea Moss has been farmed in Saint Lucia for more than 30yrs. Prior to the 1980s, all seaweeds used in the Caribbean were obtained from wild populations, which soon began to dwindle in stock due to overharvesting.

As such, the Government of St. Lucia began a research programme in the 1981 to develop methods for cultivating seamoss, and in 1985, the first successful harvests from this project were made by a group of Sea Moss farmers from a farm on the southeast coast of the island. Since then, the knowledge and technology discovered in this process has been transferred to farmers in Grenada, St. Vincent, Dominica, Barbados, Antigua, Jamaica and Haiti. Seamoss is cultivated in four main areas in St Lucia: Monchy, Praslin, Eau Piquant and Laborie. Small groups of farmers and individuals do this by using floating lines anchored to the sea bed by various means. Currently there are over 400 individuals engaged in seamoss farming on island. Over the last 3 years, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of individuals engaged in the farming of seamoss. This can be attributed to the high demand for sun dried seamoss especially in the export market. In 2021 over $ 6,000 000 in revenue was received from Sea Moss exports. Consequently, Sea Moss farming has demonstrated its potential to create employment and contribute significantly to the socioeconomic wellbeing of coastal communities where it is farmed.

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