Information Officer I (Ag.)
Department of Information and Public Relations
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Natural Resources, Labour and Immigration, Dr. Marcia Potter has said that the time has come for the region to agree to cooperate to address the most recent threat of the Sargassum Seaweed.
Dr. Potter made the call following the 1st International Conference on Sargassum held in Guadeloupe from October 23 to 26. The meeting brought together stakeholders from the Caribbean and other countries of the world to discuss the issue of the sea weed and its threat to the islands.
The Permanent Secretary represented Minister for Natural Resources, Labour and Immigration Honourable Vincent Wheatley at the conference and said the time has come for cooperation from stakeholders to address the Sargassum seaweed threat and for mobilising the donor and scientific community to come to the region’s assistance.
“The resolution must go beyond cleaning up our coastlines and putting up barriers as we do now, as this will only lead us into spending millions of dollars each year,” she stated while adding, “We need cost effective strategies and technologies to address Sargassum. The Government and people of The Virgin Islands look forward to continued collaboration to address this threat and trust that we will develop the know how to turn this negative threat into a positive opportunity.”
Dr. Potter further stated that it was agreed that collaborative plans and programmes including the “Caribbean Program for Sargassum” which will be financed by the European Territorial Cooperation Fund (INTERREG) and led by the Guadeloupe Region to combat Sargassum will be put in place.
In addition to the French Government, the fund partnership includes the Territorial Community of French Guiana, the Territorial Community of Saint-Martin, the Association of Caribbean States (ACS), the the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), the French Environment and Energy Management Agency (ADEME), and the French Agency for Biodiversity (AFB).
The representatives discussed issues including the threats that Sargassum Seaweed poses, the consequences of Sargassum landings and the effects on marine and land ecosystems, as well as the potential health impacts on populations that are exposed to the seaweed.
The meeting was attended by official delegations of multiple countries, territories and regional organisations including the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), the Association of Caribbean States (ACS), Barbados, Grenada, Antigua and Barbuda, Saint Lucia, Anguilla, Montserrat, British Virgin Islands, Martinique, Saint Martin, Saint-Barthelemy, France, Trinidad & Tobago, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Mexico, Brazil and the USA.
Photo 1: Permanent Secretary Dr. Marcia Potter and her Interpreter.
Photo 2: Heads of Delegations in a closed meeting of Ministers.
Photo 3: Display of the Sargasse Project
(Photo credit: Provided)