Harnessing Sargassum for Entrepreneurship Development in Coastal fishing communities.
The Lagos State University (LASU) in conjunction with the Lagos State Research and Innovation Council organized an international virtual conference under the Centre of Excellence for Sargassum Research (LASRIC) under the theme: Harnessing Sargassum for Entrepreneurship Development in Coastal Fishing Communities. The dignitaries at the conference included the Executive Governor of Lagos State His Excellency, Mr. Babajide Sanwoolu; Deputy Governor (Lagos State) His Excellency, Dr. Obafemi Hazmat; Commissioner for Science and Technology (Lagos State): Honourable, Mr. Hakeem Fahm; Commissioner for Environment: Honourable, Mr. Tunji Bello. Commissioner for Agriculture Ms Olusanya ably represented by the Director of Fisheries; Vice Chancellor (LASU) Professor Ibiyemi Olatunji-Bello.
The Centre of Excellence for Sargassum Research (CESAR), Lagos State University, observed the invasion of strange seaweeds in the Nigerian territorial waters and decided to research into the possibilities of harnessing the weeds for entrepreneurship development in the affected communities. The weeds bloom about March and suddenly disappear around August. Further investigation revealed that the weed is made up of a group of Sargassum species, When in season it prevents artisanal fishermen and women whose livelihoods depend on the marine waters (1 – 5 nautical miles) from fishing and carrying out other activities which they rely on for their livelihood such as transportation and tourism. In addition, the marine trawlers targeting shrimps in the area beyond the 5 nautical miles for export are affected. This weed is believed to have drifted from the Sargasso Sea and covers all the West coast of Africa, South Africa, the Caribbean Islands, etc. This conference is of National, Regional and International significance and would provide insights into the utilization of the weed for the empowerment of fishing communities in Nigeria and other countries where it has hitherto been perceived as a nuisance. The overarching goal of the conference is to harness ideas, knoelwdge, skills, methods and strategies by which Sargassum can be turned from being an economic and social destabilizing menace to one which has the tremendous potential of becoming raw material that could be promoted as a significant driver of economic and entrepreneurial activities in the quest for attaining Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 1 and 2.