Antigua to acquire machines to help fight sargassum seaweed
ST. JOHN’S, Antigua, CMC – Equipment to help in the fight against the sargassum seaweed is expected to arrive in Antigua shortly.
This follows a request made to Martinique at the recently concluded Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) meeting of the Council of Ministers of Environmental Sustainability in Montserrat, for assistance in identifying the suitable equipment.
Martinique was asked as they more experienced than other OECS member states in dealing with this issue.
According to Environment Minister Molwyn Joseph within a few weeks, his ministry would receive the recommended equipment.
“The objective, before the next tourism season, is to make significant progress in cleaning up our beaches and to implement some of the measures that were agreed to at the meeting. The issue of sargassum should be considered urgent because of the severe impact it is having, not only on the tourism industry but the lifestyle and livelihood of the people in the Caribbean,” he said.
Joseph also cautioned that going forward, necessary measures need to be put in place for the sargassum season like the arrangements for the hurricane season.
“We have made the assumption that this is going to be an annual thing, and the same way we prepare for hurricanes we have to prepare for sargassum because there is such a thing as sargassum season,” the minister said.
One of the agreements coming from the environmental ministers meeting was that barriers should be erected around the beaches to keep the sargassum away from the shores and conduct the cleaning behind the barriers.
The sargassum seaweed has forced the closure of several hotels on the country’s coastline.
It has also affected marine life.
The seaweed is also prevalent in nearby islands.
In Grenada, the government recently appointed a Sargassum Task Force.
According to environmentalists, sargassum is coming from South America where the Orinoco, Amazon and other rivers are bringing increased nutrients from land to sea and the warmer nutrient-rich sea water is ideal for the sargassum to grow rapidly.
The sargassum is then transported by the waves up to the coastline of the islands and washes up on the bays along the Atlantic shoreline.