Friday, June 21, 2024

SPTC activates a response to tackling the heavy influx of sargassum


San Pedro Town has activated a response to tackle the current influx of the brown seaweed known as sargassum, with the San Pedro Town Council (SPTC) leading the campaign. On May 3rd, they offered more job posts to keep the beaches sargassum-free and are also partnering with the private sector to jointly remove much of the seaweed from the shoreline. All tourism stakeholders are encouraged to share their response efforts as the seasonal natural phenomenon affects the coasts beyond the downtown area.
A representative of the Sargassum Squad shared that the priority is the efficient removal of the brown algae. They invite stakeholders and community groups to join and participate in the solution. The issue is everyone’s problem and remains a threat to the tourism industry in San Pedro around this time of the year. The amount washing ashore fluctuates yearly. The amount has consistently increased this year, calling for a rapid response.
The latest report from the National Meteorological Service of Belize forecasts more brown seaweed beaching on the Belizean coast. According to their reports, the chances of more mats affecting coastal destinations like San Pedro remain high. The SPTC is on high alert and will continue to keep the downtown beaches as clean as possible. One reason why the seaweed must be removed is the foul odor it emits as it decays on the shoreline. It emits hydrogen sulphide gas and can kill marine life along the shores as it can consume oxygen in the water. However, the odor is the primary reason for removal to avoid affecting stakeholders along the beach.
What is the San Pedro crew doing?
Several workers, some full-time while others part-time, remove as much sargassum as they can daily. The collected seaweed is buried somewhere west of town. To avoid harmful gases, the SPTC said the algae is mixed with other materials to become organic soil. Another way to use the unwanted algae is to build the San Pedrito Boulevard in that subdivision. Sargassum lays the groundwork for upgrading public spaces with sports and recreational facilities. While this is in process, the town board asks the public not to dump in this area, not squat or remove the seaweed fill.
The San Pedro crew is working with the National Sargassum task force and other departments to ensure that using sargassum as a landfill does not affect the community’s well-being. During intense cleanup campaigns, everything is done to reduce smell and leaching from sargassum. Any person interested in joining the cleaning crew on the island can visit the SPTC offices during regular working hours, Monday to Friday, 8AM to 5PM.

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