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Government assembles task force to combat Sargassum seaweed

Government assembles task force to combat Sargassum seaweed

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A task force has been set up by the government to deal with problem of Sargassum seaweed across the nation.

The task force will be led by senator Julian Francis, Minister of State in the Ministry of Transport and Works.

At a press conference at Cabinet Room on Tuesday, Prime {{more}}Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves said although the Government has been doing some cleaning up of the brown seaweed which has been washing up along the eastern coastline of the mainland and in the southern Grenadines, a more comprehensive manner to deal with the problem must be found.

He said he had been in contact with the University of the West Indies and he is disappointed in the university’s response.

The Prime Minister disclosed that the Government is heading in the direction of a “team up” with the Tobago Marine Park, Union Island and other business persons to clean up the beaches. However, he said “as soon as you clean, of course, it comes again.”

On Monday, the St Vincent and Grenadines Hotel and Tourism Association (SVGHTA) and the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) released a resource guide, compiled by the Caribbean Alliance for Sustainable Tourism (CAST), in collaboration with strategic partner OBM International (OBMI), to assist with local efforts to deal with the seaweed.

“The guide is a useful tool for assisting hotels and destinations with developing a local action plan to manage and minimize the impact of Sargassum in an environmentally sensitive manner. Sargassum is a natural occurrence that poses no threat to beach goers. The resource guide also provides tips for educating hotel guests and residents about this natural phenomenon,” said Kim Halbich, SVGHTA president.

Sargassum is a free-floating seaweed that moves with the ocean currents. It serves as a habitat for over 250 species of fish and invertebrates and is used by marine life as nurseries, feeding grounds and shelter. Sargassum can also be extremely important to endangered and migratory species, like sea turtles and whales.

The seaweed has been creating a mess on beaches across the nation and becomes quite smelly when it begins to rot. It is causing problems for fishers, tourism operators, coastal dwellers, environmentalists and land fill operators, who must now find environmentally friendly ways to clean it up. (AL)

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