Residents are being encouraged to harvest and recycle the sargassum seaweed that has been plaguing the territory for years.
Marine biologist at the Ministry of Natural Resources & Labour Mervin Hastings said the seaweed has many environmental benefits including the ability to be used as fertilizer or compost.
“The sargassum seaweed provides a source of food, home and nursery to an amazing variety of marine species (plants, shrimps, crabs, birds, fish, turtles, etcetera). Sargassum also aids in creating sand dunes which help in restoring eroded beaches and can also serve as biofuel and landfill,” Hastings said.
He said the gases released by the seaweed only becomes harmful and poisonous if kept in concentrated enclosed spaces.
He further reasoned that common sights of sargassum on beaches or marinas will not be harmful unless they are exposed to the gasses for a prolonged period. This, he said, may result in eye irritation and potential of respiratory issues.
An influx of sargassum is expected in the Caribbean in the upcoming months, according to statistics from the University of South Florida Optical Oceanography Lab.
Research has also indicated that the seaweed may exceed last year’s historical record amount.
Residents and community organisations are therefore being asked to assist with the cleaning up of sargassum once it reaches the territory’s shores. They are also being warned not to use any form of heavy equipment, which may result in damage being caused to the beach or the marine ecosystems.
Persons interested in pursuing such measures and in need of more information are asked to contact the Environment and Climate Change Unit of the Ministry of Health.
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