Sargassum, a smelly seaweed, has been invading majority of Caribbean islands including Jamaica. Hence, the Government is taking steps to put it into use and mitigate its effects.
Chief Technical Director in the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Orville Palmer, said that there is a project they are looking into to see how sargassum can be put to use
“We will have to do some further research to see how we can process [the sargassum] into value-added things like fertiliser, while at the same time being able to successfully eliminate or remove the impediment. That is something we are actively working on as we speak.”
Principal Director of the Marine Branch, National Fisheries Authority, Stephen Smikle, explained that sargassum is a naturally occurring aquatic plant that is found in the Atlantic Ocean.
“Why we’re seeing so much of it now is perhaps as a direct consequence of climate change. The water temperature is getting warmer and with that, we’re finding sargassum increasing in numbers and washing into the Caribbean… It’s not just Jamaica that’s affected; it’s all the Caribbean islands,” he said.
Noting that the project is a regional one, Mr Smikle reiterated that, “we’re looking to see if we can harvest the sargassum and use it in some kind of economic way [such as] for drugs in the pharmaceutical industry”.
In June, the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) placed the country on alert for the increase in sargassum along several beaches across the island. The parishes of Portland, St. Thomas, St. Catherine and Westmoreland are reportedly heavily impacted.
Despite being completely harmless to humans, the unsightly and stinky nature of the rotting sargassum means that it runs the risk of ruining beach-based activities for potentially millions of travellers this summer.
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