Thursday 16 July, 2020

Watch: Sargassum returns to Tobago; THA activates response team

Photo courtesy the Tobago House of Assembly, Division Infrastructure, Quarries and the Environment/Facebook.

Photo courtesy the Tobago House of Assembly, Division Infrastructure, Quarries and the Environment/Facebook.

The Tobago House of Assembly (THA) Division of Division Infrastructure, Quarries and the Environment said it is prepared to deal with this year's visitation of Sargassum seaweed, as video footage shared online showed seaweed along Tobago's shores affecting wildlife. 

Videos shared via social media showed fishermen and others wading in Sargassum seaweed, some of which was so thick that fish became trapped in it. 

Facebook user Gilson Timeless Smith shared video footage showing fish trapped by the heavy deposits of seaweed at King's Bay, Tobago:

 

The Tobago Emergency Management Agency said the THA's Sargassum Management Committee has been activated to deal with the issue, and the Division issued a statement saying they are prepared to handle the matter.

"Whilst the nation continues to observe COVID-19 restrictions, the return of Sargassum Seaweed is engaging the attention of the Tobago House of Assembly’s Sargassum Management Committee."

"Based on an initial assessment, significant quantities of sargassum were observed today in nearshore areas, particularly in Lambeau and Scarborough. Spring tide is likely to facilitate the breakup, burying and transfer of the material."

Howard Robin, Climate Change Specialist at Coastal Zone Management Unit (DIQE), Tobago, said the THA has developed a Sargassum Management Plan.

Robin said: “The expectation, based on the Sargassum Sub Regional Outlook Bulletin March 2020, is that Southern Caribbean islands would have a higher influx of Sargassum than normal from March to May. The situation is concerning but it's too early to make any pronouncement of possible interventions; however, we are ready.”

TEMA said the Management Committee will continue to monitor the entire Atlantic Coast inclusive of Hope Bay, Delaford Bay and King’s Bay and other affected areas, with a view to responding appropriately if required and the public will be advised where necessary. 

TEMA has advised the public to exercise caution around affected coastlines:

"The Tobago Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) advises the public to be cautious while in and around the Atlantic coastline, specifically Scarborough and Lambeau, as we are receiving reports that sagassum is significantly affecting these coast lines.

"Sargassum seaweed has a strong odour and insects may be present. However, Sargassum seeweed does not sting or irritate skin, nor is the odour toxic."

"Citizens, tourists and all marine interests are urged to be vigilant and exercise caution when on the nation’s beaches and venturing out to sea. The relevant authorities are monitoring the situation and will issue further advisories as necessary."

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