Sargassum Clean-up Costs Caribbean US$120 Million – Bartlett
The unprecedented degrees of sargassum seaweed that washed through to Caribbean beaches in 2018 led to estimated clean-up costs of US$120 million, in accordance with Minister of Tourism and Co-Chair of the Global Tourism Resilience and Crisis Management Centre (GTRCM), Hon. Edmund Bartlett.
In addition to costly removal, tourism stakeholders have grown to be worried about the seaweed&rsquo increasingly; s appearance unsightly, visitor complaints and the chance of reputational damage, the Tourism Minister noted.
“As active stakeholders in the sector we understand the inestimable value of tourism to prosperous and stable Caribbean economies. Tourism remains the single most significant catalyst of sustained economic livelihoods in your community,” Minister Bartlett said in opening remarks at the GTRCM Roundtable on Sargassum today (July 26) at the University of the West Indies’ Region Headquarters, Mona.
The Caribbean may be the most tourism-dependent region of the world, where it’s the main economic sector in 16 out of 18 Caribbean states and supports near 3 million jobs.
Noting forecasts of a 12% growth in tourist arrivals to the spot for 2019, Minister Bartlett said, “Despite these promising indicators and its own (tourism’s) historical resilience, we remain well aware that the tourism sector is quite prone and fragile to disruptive elements. The final a decade have witnessed an evolution of the threats facing the sector. These threats have grown to be more unpredictable and much more devastating within their impact and certainly more challenging to control.”
Sargassum is one particular threat. Accordingly, the GTRCM saw an urgent have to facilitate the coming together of regional tourism and environmental stakeholders to talk about ideas, guidelines and possible answers to the undesireable effects sargassum in wearing national and regional economies.
Since 2011, thick mats of seaweed have increased in density to create an 8850-kilometer-long belt (weighing 20 million metric tons) referred to as the fantastic Atlantic Sargassum Belt that extends from West Africa to the Caribbean Sea and Gulf coast of florida. Scientists believe this algal explosion in the Atlantic Caribbean and Ocean Sea could signify a fresh normal.
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The sargassum phenomenon is thought to be driven by way of a mix of natural and man-made factors, including climate change and increased sea surface temperature; change in regional winds and ocean current patterns; and an elevated way to obtain nutrients from rivers, sewage and nitrogen-based fertilizers.
In the open seas, sargassum provides critical habitats for bird and marine life. However, when it inundates beaches it rots and smells, becoming an economic and environmental nuisance. Tourism on Mexico’s Caribbean Coast dropped around 35% in 2018 because of sargassum washing through to the 480-kilometer-long stretch of otherwise pristine beaches.
Minister Bartlett told local and overseas participants at the GTRCM Roundtable a strong regional response at both political and technical level is urgently necessary to address this rapidly evolving sargassum problem.
“The effective countering of the threat shall require the various nations’ governments arriving at conduct research together, mitigate contributing factors, identify global guidelines in adaptation strategies and create a comprehensive scientific initiative to determine probably the most efficient methods to collect the sargassum on view sea without harming the ecosystem,” said the Tourism Minister.
Presentations were created by Andres Bisono Luke and Leon Grey, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Precision Engineering Research Group; Professor Mona Webber, Director, Centre for Marine Sciences and Discovery Bay Marine Laboratory; and Marion Sutton, Project and oceanographer Manager, Collecte Localisation Satellites, France.
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