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  • The National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) has prepared guidelines for the sustainable removal and disposal of the sargassum (a brown seaweed with bony-like air bladders) currently affecting beaches and coastlines around Jamaica and the Caribbean.
  • This was disclosed by Director of Environmental Management at NEPA, Anthony McKenzie, at a JIS ‘Think Tank’, on October 20.
  • Some of the guidelines suggested by NEPA include raking-up the material; disposing the seaweed in a hole and properly covering it; or creating a compost heap in a special isolated site, as under normal sunny conditions the odour dissipates in a little over a week.

The National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) has prepared guidelines for the sustainable removal and disposal of the sargassum (a brown seaweed with bony-like air bladders) currently affecting beaches and coastlines around Jamaica and the Caribbean.

This was disclosed by Director of Environmental Management at NEPA, Anthony McKenzie, at a JIS ‘Think Tank’, on October 20.

“The sargassum seaweed has to be removed with care.  We have prepared general guidelines for the removal of sargassum from the beaches. This information is available on our website and we want to ensure that care is taken, recognising that our beaches are sensitive areas,” he said.

Some of the guidelines suggested by NEPA include raking-up the material; disposing the seaweed in a hole and properly covering it; or creating a compost heap in a special isolated site, as under normal sunny conditions the odour dissipates in a little over a week.

Manager of the Ecosystems Management branch of NEPA, Andrea Donaldson, who also spoke at the ‘Think Tank’, explained that using heavy equipment or machines to remove the seaweed could lead to severe damage to the beach.

“We ask that it be raked.  Heavy duty vehicles can cause more impact on the beach. A number of beaches may be sea turtle nesting sites, nesting beaches for birds or crocodiles and these machines will compact or aid in destroying the beach,” she noted.

She further advised that the heavy duty machines will take away not only the sargassum , but also the very sand being protected.  She said using the rake allows for removal of the seaweed without the sand.

The sargassum has become a worrisome problem for beachfront properties and tourism interests, as the  seaweed produces an offensive odour and is a turn-off to guests and beachgoers.  Persons living  close to  coastlines and beachfronts,  as well as fisherfolk, are also affected.

Clumps of the brownish seaweed have long washed up on Caribbean coastlines, but researchers say the algae blooms have exploded in extent and frequency in recent years.  The 2015 seaweed invasion has  severely impacted some tourism dependent islands, where visitors have cancelled vacations.

Mr. McKenzie pointed out that the sargassum ‘invasion’ has so impacted the island of Tobago, that the Government has termed it a “natural disaster.”  Other countries, such as Barbados, have also been severely impacted.

For more information on the proper removal and disposal of the sargassum, persons can visit the office of NEPA, 10 & 11 Caledonia Avenue, Kingston 5; call them toll free at 1-888-991-5005,  fax: 754-7596 or visit their website at www.nepa.gov.jm.  You may also visit their social media pages, Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/nepajm; Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/nepajamaica and Instagram at nepaja.