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Excessive seaweed poses no threat to environment, says NEPA

Friday, September 01, 2017

THE National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) says brown seaweed being washed ashore the island's coasts is a natural phenomenon and poses no threat to the environment or human life.

“The seaweed is actually a type of open ocean algae called sargassum. It is only found in the Atlantic Ocean and provides refuge for migratory species. It is also an essential habitat for some species of fish and invertebrates, and provides shelter and food to sea turtles and commercially important fish like tuna. Additionally, sargassum plays a role in beach nourishment and is an important element in shoreline stability,” a NEPA release said Wednesday.

The agency said that in recent months mats of sargassum have been appearing along beaches in St Maarten, Florida and the Caribbean coastline of Mexico, noting that massive amounts of pelagic sargassum also occurred throughout the Caribbean in 2011, 2014 and 2015.

Said NEPA: “The recent influx of sargassum is believed to be related to massive sargassum in a particular area in the Atlantic Ocean where nutrients are available and temperatures are high. The sargassum consolidates into large mats and is transported by ocean currents towards and through the Caribbean, washing up on beaches throughout the region.

“As it collects and decomposes on the seashore there will be a smell and it will also attract insects. Leaving the sargassum on the beach has proven to be the simplest and lowest cost solution.”

NEPA, meanwhile, has advised individuals to take special care to minimise the amount of sand which may also be removed from the seashore.