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Jan 7, 2016

Sargassum: A Regional Phenomenon Due to Climate Change

Still on issues impacting the CARICOM states…the explosion of Sargassum, otherwise known as gulfweed, across the Caribbean, is a phenomenon that is believed to be a direct result of climate change.  It turns out however, that the spread of the brown macro algae isn’t limited to the tropical waters of the Caribbean Sea.  In fact, Sargassum is washing up as far away as coastal Africa.  Without an immediate plan of action to deal with the disruption caused by free-floating species, many are concerned about the impact Sargassum is having on the fisheries and tourism sectors.  Earlier today, Milton Haughton, Executive Director of the CARICOM Regional Fisheries Mechanism, spoke about the effect of the Sargassum increase.

 

Milton Haughton

Milton Haughton, Exec. Dir., CARICOM Regional Fisheries Mechanism

“The Sargassum situation is a challenge for all of us in the region.  We first had a massive inundation of Sargassum seaweed in 2011.  For 2012, 2013 we did not have much.  2014 we had a little more and last year it was a major problem throughout the Caribbean region, massive problem and based on the scientific information that we and our partners have been able to gather we know that the Sargassum is coming from, not the Sargasso Sea as was initially thought but an area in the Atlantic, just in the southern Atlantic.  It seems clear that this is associated with climate change but also with other factors such as nutrient enrichment in the ocean and the elevated temperatures of these Sargassum seaweed they grow, they proliferate in that environment with a high level of nutrients and a higher level of nutrients and warmer waters.  And then the drift across and come to the Caribbean region, as well as into Africa because the phenomena we experience in the Caribbean was taking place not just in the Caribbean but in the Caribbean and Africa at the same time.  So it is a massive, massive ocean wide phenomena but it’s very disruptive.  It has been very disruptive to our fishers.  Many of our fishers, particularly in the Eastern Caribbean where they had really, really massive quantities, in some cases nearly as high as this building, coming ashore.  The fishing boats have not been able to go out.  Some fish species have been absent completely and in some cases we have massive quantities of other fish appearing, in some cases juveniles.  And some fishermen have been able to go and catch some of these juveniles.  In relation to that, when it comes ashore it’s a problem because after a while it rots and it disrupts the tourism activities.  It disrupts other ecological processes.  Turtles, in some cases, are not able to come ashore to breed and so on.”

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1 Response for “Sargassum: A Regional Phenomenon Due to Climate Change”

  1. Belizean says:

    Climate change has happened for thousands of years! And. The. Earth. Still. Stands. People. do we not realize that this is a term that has been hi-jacked, blown out of proportion for the global elite to deprive law abiding citizens of its God given rights?

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