Friday, April 19, 2024

Ministry of Blue Economy on the Sargassum, climate change and carbon emissions


The issue of Sargassum choking the coast of many countries in the Caribbean region is always a threat to the tourism industry. The beaches in San Pedro Town, Ambergris Caye, appear to be Sargassum-free for now, but some weeks ago, the island’s shoreline was inundated with brown seaweed. The Ministry of Blue Economy has been studying the problem attributed mainly to climate change. The ministry touched on the issue on Wednesday, October 19th, during the launch of the Marine Spatial Planning process in Belize City.
Minister of the Blue Economy, the Honourable Andre Perez, said that while the plan they are engaging in does not focus specifically on the impacts of climate change and the issue of Sargassum, these elements are essential to the ministry as well and will be addressed simultaneously. “There is no clear solution to it,” said Perez. “There is an ongoing fight worldwide in reducing carbon emissions, and Belize is committed to doing its part as well.”

Sargassum free beaches

Regarding the problem with Sargassum, the minister combined the discussion with yet another problem, beach erosion. “There are ongoing talks and negotiations to deal with this problem-Sargassum. I am looking at different options,” said Perez. Financing is one of the components needed to continue research and solution hunting. One of the approaches recently shared is to convert Sargassum into valuable resources like material for building homes. Another idea is to create a mechanism for how to generate energy from Sargassum. The program to convert Sargassum to power will be part of a strategic national energy policy the government is currently working on. The document will set Belize’s energy agenda for the next five to ten years when this proposal is complete.

Sargassum influx

Although the Sargassum influx has significantly reduced, the problem it’s still out there. The change in the currents triggered by the change in the season (Fall), and with winter approaching, may give the region a break to continue working on their proposals to tackle the ever-growing problem. The invasion of the brown algae heavily impacts the tourism industry in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico regions. These countries include Barbados, Antigua, St. Vincent, Dominican Republic, Belize, and Mexico’s Caribbean coast.

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