Press Release

Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour
Release Date:
Friday, 2 June 2023 - 4:34pm

The Government of the Virgin Islands is seeking ways to manage the threat of the sargassum seaweed and has concluded a two-day training of trainer’s workshop for stakeholders in sargassum management.

The aim of the workshop was to build the capacity of coastal and marine managers and users of sargassum to sustainably manage this threat. The focus of the training was to increase understanding on the science of sargassum – its origins and ecological value, the principles of adaptive management, selection of tools and approaches for monitoring, clean-up and the rehabilitation of affected areas. 

Representatives from multiple organisations including the BVI Tourist Board, National Parks Trust of the Virgin Islands, Unite BVI, and the BVI Ports Authority participated in the training.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry with the responsibility for Natural Resources, Mr. Ronald Smith-Berkeley said he was happy to see the joint efforts made for the workshop to take place.

Mr. Smith-Berkeley said, “We at the ministry appreciate the efforts made, by everyone involved in this workshop.  We also appreciate the interest shown by the stakeholders, and the fact that they came out to learn and share knowledge about the issue so that collectively we find a solution to the management of the seaweed.” 

The training was a collaborative effort between the Ministry, the Caribbean Natural Resources Institute (CANARI) and the University of the West Indies Centre for Resources Management and Environmental Studies (UWI-CERMES).

Meanwhile, Deputy Secretary, Mr. Mervin Hastings said the issue of sargassum is one that is shared among the entire Caribbean, as well as the United States of America and Mexico. He said solutions are being explored to mitigate what he called the “new norm”.

Mr. Hastings said, “The removal of sargassum is not an inexpensive venture and we must find alternative solutions to how we can deal with the sargassum menace that we are having throughout the Caribbean.”

“This is the reason we are having workshops such as these, because I believe it is our job to find a solution through effectively engaging stakeholders and securing their participation,” the Deputy Secretary said.

Sargassum influxes have been affecting the Caribbean region since 2011, becoming a recurring threat over recent years in the Eastern Caribbean, including in Anguilla, Monserrat, the Virgin Islands and the UK.  These influxes have resulted in increasingly negative ecological and socio-economic impacts including biodiversity loss in coastal and marine ecosystems.

Senior Technical Officer of (CANARI) Ms. Yasa Belmar along with Ms. Richeda Speede of (UWI-CERMES) were the facilitators of the workshop.

The workshop was convened under the Darwin Plus-funded project, Sustainable Sargassum Management in Anguilla; the Virgin Islands and Montserrat funded by the UK Government through the Darwin Plus: Overseas Territories Environment and Climate Fund under the Darwin Initiative. 

The Ministry continues to manage the natural resources of the Territory in a manner that ensures long-term sustainability.


Berta McKelly Adams

Assistant Information Officer
Department of Information & Public Relations 
Telephone: 468-2740