The waves of Sargassum seaweed heading toward Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean could be as devastating to national economies as a strong tropical storm or a Category 1 hurricane, Prime Minister Mottley has warned.
As the Prime Minister spoke on the sidelines of the 40th CARICOM Summit, a chunk of the stinking red seaweed the size of Jamaica is heading towards Mexico’s Caribbean coast.
She said an unprecedented level of cooperation in CARICOM would be needed to tackle a sargassum invasion should it reach the Caribbean Sea.
While scientists disagree on the origin and cause of the floating carpets of algae, Mottley said: “There is speculation as to whether this Sargassum is purely as a result of… a number of activities taking place in the region of the Amazon and coming up.
“But there is … also some scientific discussion linking it to the extent of the run off and nitrates coming from the United States of America … and other factors that have led to the perfect mix, creating these Sargassum waves … that are potentially devastating for those communities and countries that rely on tourism.”
The Prime Minister noted that Barbados had started in a relatively small-scale testing of how best to harvest the Sargassum and use it for productive purposes.
But she noted: “ The scale at which it is coming is truly mammoth, and I believe that its impact will be as devastating as … a strong tropical storm or a Category 1 hurricane.”
She added that while threat to tourism was clearly evident, in some islands, the livelihood of fishing communities was being literally wiped out by the Sargassum seaweed as it blocked ports and confined fishing boats. (PMO)