The Caribbean is the most tourism-dependent region on the planet where the industry provides over 15% of direct gross domestic product (GDP) and ~14% of direct jobs. In the smaller islands, e.g., U.S. Virgin Islands, travel and tourism’s GDP contributions are as high 70%. A collapse of the tourism industry would likely lead to mass migration and have serious consequences for the entire hemisphere.
SOS Carbon, Inc. (Sargassum Ocean Sequestration of Carbon) is a spinoff company from the Mechanical Engineering Department at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). SOS Carbon is focused on scaling its unique patented technologies and systems to turn the sargassum invasion problem into economic, social, and environmental opportunities. The company’s current approach centers on scaling its technology that cost-efficiently harvest Sargassum directly from the sea while formally employing the local fishermen and community members. Environmental cleanup services are provided to the tourism sector who can’t have a sustainable tourism without pristine beaches. SOS Carbon then generates value chains by using the fresh sargassum as raw material for processing into value-add products through its key partners.
SOS Carbon other central technology is the Sargassum Ocean Sequestration of Carbon system, which pumps the seaweed to a critical depth of 300m after which it keeps sinking on its own. Below 1,000m, gases are trapped in the Ocean effectively sequestering the carbon. A further benefit is that sargassum can also absorb heavy metals in the Ocean that come from burning coal and these too then get sequestered. SOS Carbon has taken a serious problem and turned it in to a great opportunity. Since its origin, SOS Carbon has understood that tackling environmental crises has to be a joint effort between all stakeholders. SOS Carbon has been able to bring together leaders and changemakers from all sectors through the region: private, public, NGOs, academia.