Fishers and users of the marine space in Dominica are being advised to exercise caution while travelling through large mats of sargassum to reduce the possibility of stalling.
The advice is coming from the Fisheries Division of the Ministry of Blue and Green Economy, Agriculture and National Food Security which says there will be a projected increase in the amount of sargassum seaweed along the coastline during the month of July and onwards.
“According to the sargassum sub-regional outlook bulletin there will be a moderate to severe influx within the Eastern Caribbean islands and Dominica being one of them,” Communications Officer in the Ministry of Agriculture, Petra Shillingford said. “It is expected that during the next coming weeks there will be an increase.”
Shillingford continued, “Therefore we are urging fishers that they should exercise extreme caution when traveling through this sargassum to reduce the possibility of engine failure or engine stalling.”
She explained that in the Fond Cole and Marigot area there are large build-ups of sargassum, “so we are asking you to please be cautious.”
Shillingford stated that this is an annual exercise, but for those persons who are not aware, sargassum is a brown seaweed that floats in the ocean and it provides an habitat or a home, for migratory organisms such as crabs, shrimp, sea turtles, tuna, and marlin.
“Sargassum will rot if it washes up on the shore and not in the sea waters,” she explained. “However, this now creates a rotten egg, smelling sort of hydrogen sulfide gas.”
Shillingford further explained that this can affect the eyes, nose, and throat causing irritation.
“Those persons who suffer from asthma and other breathing conditions may experience more severe effects,” she indicated.
Sargassum is carried by ocean currents and according to the Fisheries Division, the large sargassum blooms that have been observed recently are thought to have been caused by nutrient-rich and warm-water regions of the Atlantic Ocean which are not to be confused and not directly connected to the Sargasso Sea, which is also an area known for large rafts of sargassum.
Additional information on sargassum and its effects may be found at https://tinyurl.com/sargreport2022.
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