The National Conservation Commission (NCC) is working overtime to keep beaches on the south coast clear of the troubling sargassum seaweed this Crop Over season, according to General Manager Keith Neblett.
The NCC boss said with an influx of visitors expected for the climax of the island’s primary cultural festival, all hands are on deck, including on weekends, in the tourism belt to clear the smelly weed, which has been a nuisance for the overseers of the island’s number one money earner, who are worried that it will turn away tourists.
“The ones on the south coast yes, every day we have people deployed. Bay Gardens where we have the fish operations up there, Miami right down, Hilton, Savannah, Accra, all of those beaches. Yesterday, a lot of the beaches were primarily clean except there was a lot at Bay Gardens,” Neblett said on the sidelines of Operation Save Our Selves, a community outreach, public education and learn-to-swim programme for people ten years or older.
“Every once in a while you see something coming in at a particular point, [and] when that happens we do that [clean up] . . . and we are working to make sure that a lot of key areas that Barbadians and tourists would go are kept clean,” he explained.
It is a delicate operation for the most part, he said, because this is where the turtles nest, and now is nesting season.
“We know that a lot of the beaches are turtle nesting sites on this part of the island so we are very mindful to minimize the use of any equipment, whether it is at Drill Hall, Browne’s Beach or some of the areas as it is turtle nesting season,” Neblett said.
The NCC has had an ongoing programme to clear the weed off the beaches, and has had assistance from Government agencies and the private sector, including Sandals and the Williams Group of Companies.
However, it is a battle against nature with which it has difficulty keeping up.
Therefore, the general manager said, after Prime Minister Mia Mottley declared the invasion a national emergency, the state agency boosted its efforts, even going as far as calling the army to help fight the war.
“We have an ongoing programme in terms of the removal of the sargassum on the beaches. This we have been doing the last three months. It also intensified when the Prime Minister indicated that it is a national emergency where we also got the support of the Barbados Defence Force,” Neblett said, adding that the recent inclement weather provided a small degree of relief which did not last very long.
“Luckily with the bad weather we had last week . . . it has pushed out a lot of the seaweed but it is back at some of the beaches.”