Press Release
17 May 2019 - 4:20pm

Marine Biologist at the Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour Mr. Mervin Hastings is reminding residents to utilise the Sargassum seaweed that washes up along the Territory’s shorelines.

Mr. Hastings said officials at the ministry are encouraging residents to utilise the seaweed because of its many environmental benefits. He added that the farming community can make use of this free resource in gardens and used as fertilizer, mulch 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, etc.). Sargassum also aids in creating sand dunes which helps in restoring eroded beaches and can also serve as biofuel and landfill,” Mr. Hastings said.

According to statistics from the University of South Florida Optical Oceanography Lab and based on historical bloom patterns, it has been predicted that in the coming months, there is a high chance that Sargassum in the Caribbean will continue to occur in high volumes, possibly exceeding the historical record that was set in 2018.

Mr. Hastings said the Sargassum Seaweed in water is harmless, but that hydrogen sulfide is released when it lands on beaches and is decomposed. He added that the “rotten eggs” smelling gas that is colourless, can possibly be poisonous and highly flammable. 

Mr. Hastings went on to reassure  residents that the gas is only harmful to one’s health in concentrated amounts in closed areas and not in open areas like beaches, marinas and port of entry. He further stated that prolonged exposure may trigger eye irritation as well as respiratory problems. Groups at risk are persons with respiratory problems, asthma patients, elderly people, babies and pregnant women.

Residents and community organisations are encouraged to assist with the clean-up of the seaweed. Persons are asked to wait until the seaweed is washed up on the shores and avoid using heavy equipment which can cause damage to beach areas and other sensitive marine ecosystems.

 For more information on the Sargassum seaweed and beach cleaning efforts, persons can contact the Environment and Climate Change Unit at 1-284-468-2700.

Attached: Sargassum Seaweed Flyer

 

Author

Paul Bridgewater

Information Officer I (Ag.)
Department of Information and Public Relations
Telephone:468-3333
Email: Pbridgewater@gov.vg

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