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Challenges of the Fishery
A call for robust  management of the Sargussum threat.

A call for robust management of the Sargussum threat.

This is an open letter to the Hon. Minister Clarence Rambharat.

We write to urge our Government’s action on a critical regional threat. While this sudden, new phenomenon of Sargassum weed washing up on our Caribbean coasts has existed since 2011, it has gotten worse each year and could increase exponentially. Locally, our recreational beaches have been blanketed and all species of mammals and fish have been trapped in seaweed clumps that are at sea 20 feet deep. This threatens our fisheries, coral reefs, damages boats and nets of fishermen, endangers environmentally sensitive species and most importantly significantly reduces the tourism value of our region.

As you are aware, climate change is negatively impacting the Caribbean with increased and unpredictable storm weather events, damage to ecosystems, food security, drought, flooding events and now, scientists believe is a likely cause of this excessive regional Sargassum crisis.

One of our Caribbean leaders has taken bold initiatives to develop a Seaweed Management programme to combat the waves of Sargassum weed that continues to escalate and plague the Caribbean. The methods currently being used by the Barbadian Government involve Sargassum Weed Harvesters (vessels specially outfitted with collection devices), Seaweed Loading Tractors and a Conveyor Belt system. We congratulate the Barbadian Government for taking a proactive pioneering approach and urge our Government to investigate the applicability of this collection method to our rough coastal areas, and to devise a management programme for collection, production, distribution and use of this threat that can be turned into a valuable resource.

For ten years nothing has been done about this Sargassum locally or regionally and now is the time for action. We call on all CARICOM states and on our own Minister of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries, Senator the Honorable Clarence Rambharat, to follow the example of good governance set by Barbados and to develop Sargassum weed management programs for each island. We respectfully submit that our Government call on all regional Prime Ministers and Presidents who have been silent on this stifling disaster to wake from their slumber, and to instruct all our UN delegates to unify as one voice to advocate for a G8 intervention to find solutions to this alleged climate change scourge which is wreaking havoc on our vulnerable, impoverished and vulnerable coastal communities and destroying our regional tourism product. With all of the climatic and socioeconomic threats which our region faces, with proper management, science and funding, we can eliminate this threat.

We strongly urge our Government to call for a global alliance to come to our region’s aid in this fight to find solutions to the devastating impacts of this Sargassum threat which is one of the by-products of global warming which our small island states have not caused.  We echo the call by Mia Mottley for good moral global leadership and action to address this issue as it will continue to have far reaching detrimental consequences to our small, vulnerable island communities.

Sincerely in Sustainable and Inclusionary Development,

Gary Aboud
Corporate Secretary