(FP)

Residents across Barbados should expect to see a heavy presence of Sargassum seaweed on beaches across the island this year.

Minister of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy, Kirk Humphrey, stated this during a recent site visit to River Bay, St. Lucy, where the seaweed is creating discomfort for residents.

Noting that the country was at the start of the seaweed season, the Minister noted that projections for this year indicated that the presence of the algae would be close to the 2018 numbers.

“That means it will be a big year for Sargassum, and therefore, there has to be a big response,” he said.

However, Mr. Humphrey noted that a full Sargassum Management Plan was implemented in 2018 and included members of the Barbados Defence Force, who conducted reconnaissance of the areas daily to allow officials to deploy personnel in areas of heavy build-up.

Making reference to the ongoing situation at River Bay, St. Lucy, the Minister said the solution would be to remove the seaweed from the area using machinery.

He added that the area was usually cleaned by staff of the National Conservation Commission, but in the recent past, there were challenges with equipment.

Mr. Humphrey added that a decision was reached to send a monitor to River Bay, St. Lucy, daily to assess the situation with the Sargassum build-up and deploy personnel two to three times per week to remove it when it was still fresh.

However, he cautioned persons to remember that the algae can return just as it was removed, depending on the volume coming in.  “We may have to increase the personnel clearing seaweed to be able to respond,” he said.

The Minister also encouraged farmers and entrepreneurs to maximise the opportunity, and experiment with the use of the seaweed to produce fertiliser and other products.

He also gave residents the assurance that meetings were held with the Ministry of Transport, Works and Maintenance, the Barbados Water Authority and representatives from the private sector to rectify other challenges which residents in the area were experiencing.

“We are looking at a long-term solution. The response will be a whole of government response,” he indicated.

During Saturday’s visit to River Bay, Mr. Humphrey was accompanied by Member of Parliament for St. Lucy, Peter Phillips; Director of the Coastal Zone Management Unit, Dr. Leo Brewster, and other resource persons.

julia.rawlins-bentham@barbados.gov.bb

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