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Jun 18, 2019

Sargassum Management Comes at a High Cost

John Burgos

And so, while the tourism stakeholders have been getting some relief, there is still the issue of sargassum and how it must be managed. The task force with support from the Ministry of Tourism and other partners, including the National Meteorological Service, is developing a sargassum drift projection system with the hope that it can evolve into a full forecasting system this year, with local weather forecasts. Achieving this would make Belize one of the first countries in the region with a local forecasting system for sargassum. John Burgos says that while they are still exploring the best methods to manage this problem, municipalities, along with the B.T.B. and affected properties, have been working to remove the sargassum from the tourist destinations and to dispose of it.

 

John Burgos, Member, Sargassum Task Force

“We continue hearing that they would want to see more support from government and we understand that. We have been pushing for it to be recognized as an emergency situation in the same manner when the hurricane comes. The difference is when the hurricane comes you are talking about human lives and right now we are not talking about human lives, we are talking about the livelihoods of the number one industry in the country, which as you know comprises over thirty percent of G.D.P., so you can’t undermine that. So, that why we are telling government you have to recognize how much revenue the industry brings so you got to invest some back so that we can so that we can protect that industry.  But as you can see right now the volumes are starting to increase a little larger. We have a monitoring system in place but we are trying to see how more efficiently we are able to manage it. So, that is the immediate action right now to ensure that we have an efficient way of cleaning and removing the sargassum. What has been the main limitation is that, remember, sargassum is seasonal. It is not all year round and so any investment which will require a huge capital investment that is where some of the individuals keep back.  We do know that locally, some individuals have been looking at using it as a fertilizer because it is very rich in nutrients and that is one of the reason it is easy to multiply because of the nutrients found in the waters due to contamination. But two key issues remain, you have to transport it and compile it and those two things are very costly ventures.”


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