Antigua and Barbuda has been working with the neighboring island of Guadeloupe and Martinique to help in the battle against the Sargassum Seaweed, which is causing quite a stink along the country’s shorelines.
Sargassum is a type of leafy, rootless, and buoyant algae that bunch up in islands and floats around the ocean and the country has had its fair share of seaweed which has prevented sea bathers from enjoying the beaches and forced hotels to shut its doors in some instances.
“The French have devised some methodology for reducing the impact upon beaches. But again, it takes a tremendous number of resources and also takes a lot of thinking. The truth is that some have suggested that it might be a bonanza, which we haven’t recognized as yet, because it could be turned into fertilizer or some other useful products which human civilization would consume,” Chief of Staff in the Prime Minister’s Office Lionel Max Hurst said.
He said unfortunately, the twin island states do not have the resources to keep the sargassum off the beaches or out at sea where it can be farmed or at least harvested.
“We have taken some of it from the beaches, as you know, and we shipped some off to Finland. And some are suggesting that we could turn it into soaps as well as perfumes and so on. These are cottage industries that have not yet emerged and certainly would not consume the thousands of tons of the substance that end up on the beaches in Antigua and Barbuda and which spoil our tourism,” Fernandez said.
He said there are some proposals for making the island’s beaches more secure and sargassum free but they all involve the expenditure of large sums of money.
“And we know that even the very wealthy hotels have not been able to implement a method of defending against them. What they’ve done is they’ve chartered buses for their clients, their customers who wish to go swimming anyway, and they’re taken to another part of the island where the Sargassum does not exist”, Hurst added
Hurst said the seaweed is also affecting marine life. “But getting rid of it is also very, very important because lots of dead creatures get stuck in the weed itself. And I think you referred to a leatherback turtle… So, we want to be able to solve that problem. And I believe several scientists are now working on it, including, the University of the West Indies. They are working assiduously on trying to solve this problem for Caribbean countries,” Hurst added.