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Sep 4, 2019

Addressing the Sargassum Phenomena

Huge mats of sargassum continue to gently make its way into this region and ultimately to pristine beaches. The sight and the smell of sargassum have negatively impacted tourist hotspots in the country. The invasive brown algae is causing harm on local ecosystem. In Belize the sargassum has slowly crept on to several beaches in Placencia and San Pedro. A Sargassum Task Force was created to deal with what is expected to be an annual challenge. The Department of Environment sits on the task force and Chief Environmental Officer, Martin Alegria says that a long term plan must be devised in order to prevent further damages to the environment and economy.

 

Martin Alegria, Chief Environmental Officer, D.O.E

“The more temperature you have the more rich nutrients that rich the seas, that is what creates these sargassum blooms. How we go about addressing that that is a hell of a task because that is a global scenario. Right now with the “small amounts” coming on mainland Belize, even the little amounts that we are experiencing is costly, very costly, prohibited sometimes to address. Imagine what will happen five, ten years from now when temperature raises more and you have more blooms and more tons coming on stream and more frequent. Right now we have lulls. In the next ten,, twenty years if we continue the way we are these sargasssum blooms will be daily and instead of you spending a thousand dollars to clean up your side of the beach on a weekly basis it will be ten thousand dollars. We are a member of the Sargassum Task Force. We have been collaborating with them in trying to suggest solutions, do piloting with these booms that try to trap. We have to plan from now. We have experience now what we have in terms of cost for cleanup, the tides, and wind direction. Those things that we have to take into consideration and plan accordingly, set aside some funding for perhaps beach cleanup.”


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