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Seaweed invasion

rhondathompson, [email protected]

Seaweed invasion

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THE SARGASSUM SEAWEED has again begun to wash ashore on beaches across the island, but Dr Lorna Inniss, the acting director of the Coastal Zone Management Unit (CZMU), has emphasised it is something that happens every year. Inniss said that in 2011 there were excessive amounts which caused some concern, but noted there was still no clear understanding of what caused it to swell to such a volume. She said there were a few scientific papers published on the episode, but none of them identified the source. Inniss said the seaweed washes ashore during the summer months, but the East Coast of the island always has more than the South.  “That is why most people do not realise it is an annual phenomenon. . . It is when you see areas that would normally be bare sand completely covered that is the problem, because once it begins to degrade you get the scent, the mosquitoes, the flies,” said the CZMU director. Inniss said in 2011 it was very bad and that was the first year where it was felt it would impact on the recreation and tourism industry. She said this year the course of action might be to renew the public education programme to encourage Barbadians to utilise the seaweed as fertiliser. She said apart from that, they had a system in place for managing the seaweed, with the National Conservation Commission (NCC) and the Drainage Division clearing the beaches. When asked to respond to concerns aired by fishermen that the presence of the seaweed led to reduced numbers of flying fish, Inniss said there was no scientific evidence to prove that the Sargassum seaweed had any impact on the fish population. On Friday, crews from the NCC were busy clearing the piles of seaweed that settled along a portion of the Richie Haynes Boardwalk on the South Coast, as well as Bath Beach on the East Coast. Workers along the Richie Haynes Boardwalk said they started noticing the seaweed in small amounts on Thursday, but by Friday morning it was washing up in massive amounts. It took workers the better portion of the morning to clear the seaweed which covered the steps on a portion of the boardwalk close to Blakey’s Restaurant. Meanwhile, NCC workers at Bath said it would be virtually impossible to clear the lengthy stretch of beach because as soon as they clear the beach more wash back in. The five-member team under the instruction of foreman Elsie Beckles said the seaweed had been washing ashore for at least two weeks. She said they usually rake off the dry seaweed and either pile it up so people who want it for fertiliser can have it, or they dispose of it in the skip.  Kelly Arthur, who works at the Bath Beach Sports Bar, said the seaweed was not causing any challenges to the business, but was not sure what would happen if it got worse. She said a lot of people were still using the beach. Taking a stroll along Bath Beach Friday afternoon was Kerrie Ward and his wife St Clair. Kerrie said he has seen it along the entire stretch of the beach leading back to Consett Bay. There are also reports of the seaweed in large volumes at River Bay. (LK)