Sargassum influx continues to challenge islanders; no plan from local task force disclosed yet
Friday, May 27th, 2022
The above-average windy days have brought a significant amount of sargassum to the windward coast of San Pedro Town. The sanitation department of the San Pedro Town Council and hoteliers have been working hard to remove the brown seaweed, which keeps beaching in large amounts. To address the situation, the national Sargassum Task Force (STF) has been active, and on May 11th, a local branch of the STF was formed in San Pedro. The unit was tasked with developing a plan to tackle the problem, but no such plan has been shared with the community to date.
The increase in the influx of the algae has been choking the country’s coastal regions. With the continuous windy days, the beaches on Ambergris Caye are badly affected. The SPTC sanitation crew members have been hard at work, and even with additional crew, the sargassum wave appears to be overwhelming. One of the tactics to counter the seaweed is to form barriers made from the same sargassum along the shore. The cleaning crew removes the dry seaweed while the fresh part serves as a buffer for the incoming mats. This method is done during windy days when the influx is more significant. According to some workers on the beach, they can scoop the sargassum once the wind drops.
Hoteliers, however, need their beaches clean. Their staff is forking and trucking heaps of the invasive algae daily. According to cleaners working at these hotels, the beach is again covered with sargassum in hours. It’s an endless job, or the island’s tourism product will not be attractive.
Keeping the island beaches clean is becoming a dilemma that can damage the upcoming festivities and tourism if not adequately addressed. Over the past weeks, some stakeholders have reported cancellations because of the sargassum situation affecting the country and island.
The latest report from the National Meteorological Service of Belize indicates that a ‘small craft caution’ advice remains due to gusty winds and locally rough seas. This report also demonstrates that coastal areas across the country will continue to be affected by sargassum during the next few days.
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