BVI News

Pickering pitches sargassum warning system to OECS

An army of floating and pungent sargassum seaweed surrounds the ferry dock in Road Town. (BVI News photo captured on May 29, 2018)

An early warning system to sound an alarm when masses of the foul-smelling sargassum seaweed are approaching is being suggested for the BVI and the wider Caribbean.

Minister of Natural Resources, Dr Kedrick Pickering pitched the idea before regional leaders at the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States’ (OECS) Council of Ministers of Environment and Sustainability meeting in Montserrat on July 11.

A media release from the ministry said such a warning system would enable countries to detect and intercept the seaweed before it arrives on a country’s shores.

During his presentation at the meeting, Dr Pickering reportedly urged the OECS Commission to work along with national governments to find what he described as other ‘long-lasting solutions to the issues posed by sargassum’.

These other solutions could include “cleaning and mitigating adverse impacts of sargassum once on shore and finding commercial pathways to harness the benefits and enhance livelihoods”.

At least one Caribbean island – Tobago – openly began exploring the idea of a sargassum warning system following a major influx of the seaweed to that island in 2015.

The system – which is believed to still be in the developing stages – effectively uses satellite data to indicate the path of the seaweed.

Back in January, the Optical Oceanography Laboratory based at the University of South Florida was reportedly able to use satellite imagery to identify an unusually high amount of sargassum in the Caribbean and the central west Atlantic.

One month later, the laboratory reportedly produced its first one-page sargassum outlook bulletin; predicting ‘a major bloom year for the Caribbean’ this year.

While there are benefits to the seaweed such as providing a food source and a home for a variety of marine species, there are reported downsides.

The marine alga which typically originates from the Sargasso Sea – a region in the Gyre of the North Atlantic Ocean – is known to impede access to the beach, is associated with extensive fish-kill, and is a general nuisance for waterfront properties.

In addition to the sargassum issue, Pickering also called on his OECS counterparts to remain ready to respond to hazard events and render assistance in times of need.

The Council of Ministers of Environment and Sustainability convenes yearly to chart the course for regional collaboration and technical assistance.

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9 Comments

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  1. Liam Watson says:

    If BVI News had cared to research this story thoroughly they would have reported that several studies indicate that this current bloom impacting the Caribbean is a separate species of Sargassum that does not originate from the Sargasso Sea in the North Atlantic…. it is blooming off the coast of Brazil and drifting up to Caribbean from there.

    • WTF! says:

      Are you certain about that?

    • Retired says:

      Correct. The Sargassum species impacting the Caribbean is originating in the west central Atlantic ocean which are the waters off the coast of Brazil. For more information visit the USF website for the Sargassum Watch System(SaWS)

      optics.marine.usf.edu/projects/SaWS.html

      Like 3
      Dislike 1
  2. Bykr55 says:

    Bermuda regularly gets overrun with Sargassum. Its been happening for generations.
    Locals and government collect the weed…use it as fertilizer across the island and then burn the rest in efficient waste management systems.
    An early warning system may tell you it’s coming…you still have to figure out what to do with it! You just can’t put up a wall to keep it out.

    Like 11
    • Hmm says:

      Exactly! They want early warning systems in place, but still haven’t found a way to rid our shores of it now! There’s only so much volunteers can do!….Even your prisoners, why isn’t the gov’t putting them to work!? So much cleaning up to do, yet they’re up there on vacation…c’mon guys, get it together n come back when you are able to present real solutions!

  3. Albion says:

    What happens when the “early warning system” gives an alert? We know it is coming, but we still can’t do anything to stop it or move out of the way.

  4. lol says:

    Don’t waste the money

  5. VG says:

    What can he do after walking out on his colleagues in the VG meeting last night. DISRESPECTFUL. We know when the sargussum coming.

    Like 2
    Dislike 1
  6. Rubber Duck says:

    Direct and intercept the seaweed? What with? That fleet of ships the government has hidden away.

    Satellite images provide a warning.

    More bureaucratic non sense to allow officials to fly to meetings, feel important , earn big money from the taxpayer.

    And as usual achieve nothing.

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