Scientists to assess health of seas around Central America

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MEXICO CITY, Sept. 14 (Xinhua) — Mexican and Central American scientists will evaluate fishery resources, fish distribution and biodiversity of the Caribbean and Pacific oceans, said the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on Friday.

A team of 22 scientists will work on an investigation vessel, the Dr. Jorge Carranza Fraser, to set sail on Monday from the city of Puerto Progreso, Yucatan state in southeastern Mexico.

The investigation will evaluate 7,500 nautical miles (some 13,890 kilometers) of the Caribbean and Pacific oceans surrounding Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama.

The team aims to gauge the health of fisheries against current fishery productivity, measure ocean temperatures, oxygen levels and salinity to check their results against satellite images.

The FAO stressed this is a South-South Cooperation initiative guided by Mexico as part of the the FAO’s Blue Growth Initiative (BGI).

The BGI will help the nations involved to “improve public policies ahead of challenges like climate change and illegal fishing,” said the FAO.

“The results will offer precise information on the waters under national jurisdiction and their potential fishery resources,” added the institute.

FAO representative in Mexico, Crispim Moreira, pointed out that Central America has an ocean territory 10 times larger than its land mass, adding that “it is key to update knowledge of the health and productivity of their seas upon which thousands of small fishers depend.”

The team will also collaborate with the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) to probe into the causes of the huge amount of Sargassum seaweed in the Caribbean.

Sargassum has become a problem for the Mexican tourism, with beaches around famed tourist destination Cancun being inundated by the brown weed.

According to the FAO, this initiative helps towards achieving Goal 14: “Life Below Water” of the Sustainable Development Agenda 2030, conserving and using the resources of the oceans for sustainable development.

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