Placencia battles sargassum problem Print
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Friday, 07 September 2018 00:00

The white sandy beaches of Placencia are literally covered with tons and tons of sargassum, better known as Gulf Weed. Residents explain to the Guardian that in some areas the compressed decaying plant material is as much as 5 feet thick with people actually being able to walk on it. The sea-side tourist community is one of the hardest hit by the floating weed and since the end of July they have seen an increased amount wash up on the beaches.

For Placencia this is bad news as they are heavily dependent on the beach as part of their tourism income earner. With that in mind, over the weekend the residents and business houses have come together to tackle the problem. At the start of the clean up efforts residents have literally had to dig trenches on the beach and carry the sargassum into these and later bury it. That labor intensive effort has now been augmented with the addition of heavy equipment including at least two excavators that extend the reach into the sea and haul out the material in tons. This is then trucked away and is deposited in lots that need landfill.

On Wednesday we were told that about 60% of the material has been removed however it is an ongoing battle as more of it keeps floating in though not in the same quantities. On Tuesday, the Belize Tourism Board director along with representatives from the Department of the Environment and engineers visited the area. Funds are being identified by the BTB to assist in the continued clean up. With the efforts being put in, the smell of the decaying sargassum is not as bad as it was, however, air conditioners have had to be turned off as the stench is drawn into homes and hotel rooms. While most are coping with the problem there are those who complain that it is causing asthmatic and other breathing problems.

For the time being the work is continuing with heavy equipment and manpower. Financial assistance is being gathered through donations, the Belize Tourism Industry Association and the Village council. Both local and foreign residents have also pitched in to physically clean the beach digging and shoveling. Those involved would like to say particular thanks to A. L. Construction which is providing the heavy equipment to do the work.

Sargassum is a form of sea weed that has become a problem in Belize and other Caribbean countries since 2011 when it was first detected and littered beaches in large amounts.

Last Updated on Friday, 07 September 2018 13:36