Richard Branson Discusses Solutions for Sargassum Seaweed with OECS Ministers

Montserrat is participating in a meeting with entrepreneur and philanthropist Sir Richard Branson this week on Moskito Island.

Minister of Trade and Environment Claude Hogan and Chief Fisheries Officer Alywn Ponteen joined colleagues from the British Virgin Islands, Anguilla, Dominica, Antigua & Barbuda along with leading scientists and experts from around the world to discuss the ongoing issue of Sargassum Seaweed which is affecting the Caribbean and the very important tourism industry. It is a high stakes event involving the UK’s FCO with expectations of immediate solutions to stem the problem to include making a business from Sargassum.

Branson is working with the OECS to develop a regional strategy to be implemented locally by member states. The OECS is acting as the technical moderator for the conference along with BVI technicians and Branson's own team of environmentalists.

Branson is working with the OECS to develop a regional strategy to be implemented locally by member states. The OECS is acting as the technical moderator for the conference along with BVI technicians and Branson’s own team of environmentalists.

“Sargussum seaweed is a threat to tourism, the livelihood of fishers and the marine environment,” Hogan noted. “Finding a strategy which we can action locally is the dominant theme of the conference.”

The environment ministers of Montserrat, the BVI, Anguilla and Antigua have been asked to champion the project to work with Branson and his Virgin Unite charity to find solutions to the problem.

Minister Hogan said they have identified some of the main issues but no single solution has yet been formulated. “One of the bullets is public education and information on Sargassum,” he said. There’s also the use of Sargassum as an animal feed.

(l to r) Chief Fisheries Officer Alwyn Ponteen, Philanthropist and Investor Sir Richard Branson and Hon. Minister of Trade and Environment Claude Hogan

(l to r) Chief Fisheries Officer Alwyn Ponteen, Philanthropist and Investor Sir Richard Branson and Hon. Minister of Trade and Environment Claude Hogan

Branson has also shared that energy must be given to conserving seafood and managing the catches of lobster in particular. According to Minister Hogan, the investor is willing to pay for his methods to be implemented and he has already agreed a marine project for Montserrat.

The billionaire who owns Moskito Island, along with nearby Necker Island in the British Virgin Islands has more than 400 companies under his Virgin Brand. Many of these companies, including Virgin and Virgin Holidays are in the travel industry. Moskito Island is part of the Virgin Limited Edition franchise, which features three villas and can house up to 22 guests for exclusive use according to the website.

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