Grenada calls for the sargassum problem to be treated as a climate change issue

Sargassum seaweed on the shoreline in Soubise

by Linda Straker

  • Sargassum seaweed on beaches in the region should be treated as a climate change issue
  • More beaches are affected in Grenada than the previous years

The Grenada Government believes that the recurring spread of sargassum seaweed on beaches in the region should be treated as a climate change issue and has called for the establishment of a regional action plan with budgetary allocation.

“Cabinet has mandated that we approach the OECS Secretariat and other regional entities to look at it as one of the effects of climate change, through the ministry of climate change or through the OECS Secretariat to find a regional solution and also regional funding for this issue. It cannot be that the governments every year have to find ad-hoc amounts to deal with the situation,” said Health Minister, Nikolas Steele while speaking at the Tuesday post-cabinet briefing.

Describing the sargassum as a plague affecting the region’s beaches, he said that the sargassum seaweed issue is a regional issue from Florida, USA all the way down to Venezuela, South America.

Steele said that in 2018 more beaches are affected in Grenada than the previous years. “There are more beaches affected this year, and therefore the need to deal with it will be greater,” said Steele as he stressed the need for regional support to deal with the challenges the sargassum is causing for the fishing and tourism sectors.

In Grenada, the government has appointed a Sargassum Task Force headed by Steele to spearhead the cleanup of beaches, but under the Ministry of Climate Resilience.

A news release from the Government Information Service said that the Sargassum Clean Up would take place from 9 May to 8 June 2018 in the first instance. The cleanup will be in collaboration with private contractors to accelerate the process

The release also said that the sargassum is coming from South America where the Orinoco, Amazon and other big rivers are bringing increased nutrients from land to sea, and the warmer nutrient-rich seawater 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.

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