Wednesday, August 23, 2017

THA declares sargassum seaweed a natural disaster

Sargassum seaweed covers a wide section of beaches across  Speyside, Tobago. Photo: Courtesy FARLEY AUGUSTINE


THE Tobago House of Assembly (THA) has deemed the sargassum seaweed invasion across Tobago a natural disaster.

Three million dollars has been injected to initially treat with the situation.

Speaking at an emergency press conference to address concerns by the tourism community yesterday, THA Chief Secretary Orville London said a working committee has also been set up to address the issue and offer recommendations.

Consultant to the committee is former tourism secretary Neil Wilson.

“We are going to approach the national government recommending to the government that they should in fact ask for an emergency meeting of the heads of government to treat with this particular situation,” London said.

Guest houses along Tobago's east and west coasts have been receiving cancellations as a result of the seaweed while others are affected. Blue Water Inn has been affected, Gemma's Tree House and the Magdalena Resort and Spa have seen an abundance of seaweed along the coastline.

 

 

Director of the Department of Natural Resources and the Environment, Linford Beckles said the use of heavy equipment will aid in clean-up efforts. “The situation at Speyside is such that the longer the material stays on the beaches it gets even more smelly, and the waters will get even more septic. So from the point of view of logistics and efficiency, we will have to identify the disposal locations that are relatively close to the affected areas,” Beckles said.

Disposal areas such as Belmont and in the vicinity of the Speyside lookout are being re-evaluated .

Chairman of the Hotel and Tourism Association, Christopher James, said islands such as Antigua, St Lucia, Barbados and Grenada are affected by the sargassum seaweed, and it is hoped an effective regional approach can be found with the intervention of the Caribbean Tourism Organisation.

The Tobago House of Assembly along with other stakeholders will host a community meeting at the Speyside Recreation Ground today from 7 p.m. to discuss the impact of Sargassum seaweed on the island's coastline.