“We are buried in Sargassum:” Seaweed arrived early and in large numbers

A record amount of sargassum (a seaweed that stinks when decomposed) was launched on the Quintana Roo coastline in March and April, according to the head of the state’s Sargassum surveillance network.

“What we see is that the mass arrival of Sargassum came much earlier than in other years,” said Esteban Amaro, a marine biologist and director of the Quintana Roo’s Sargassum surveillance network. Told the site. Animal Politico..

Over the past few years, he said, large amounts of seaweed did not reach the Quintana Roo coast until June or July. But this year it began to be washed away in January, with unprecedented quantities arriving in March and April, Amaro said.

He said about 6 million tonnes of seaweed were washed ashore from 4 million tonnes in February to March.

“In other words, there will be a significant increase and will be even higher in April. The numbers show that this year will be a very big year for Sargassum,” Amaro said.

A map released Wednesday by the surveillance network shows that Quintana Roo has 20 beaches inhabited by excessive amounts of sargassum, including 10 on the east coast of Cozumel, an island off the coast of Playa del Carmen. Most of the other 10 are in Tulum and Cancun.

In addition, 17 Kintanarrow beaches are rich in odorous brown seaweed, and 18 beaches have a modest amount.

The surveillance network warned earlier this year that a large number of sargassums would reach the coast this year, but officials said they “did nothing to prevent this situation.”

“We have been for years [anti-sargassum] The strategy doesn’t work – the same flaws are showing up many times. For example, we’ve already seen that the barrier doesn’t work because the sargassum goes over. [them].. They are barriers designed for oil spill competition, “he said.

The Navy uses a boat to collect sargassum to remove seaweed before it reaches the shore, but the amount extracted is less than the amount that is washed away each season on the famous white sand beaches of Quintana Roo.

The Navy removed 1,483 tonnes from the sea last year, an increase of 173% compared to 2019, but it is still only a small part of the total amount of weeds reaching the coast.In other words, most of the removal work of Sargassum is done on land, not only for civil servants. People hired by beachfront hotels Much of the work is done manually.

A map of Sargassum released by the Sargassum Monitoring Network on Wednesday morning.

According to Amaro, it is necessary to focus on installing longer and stronger barriers in the ocean, rather than on a Sargassum strategy that focuses on removing weeds from the beach. He added that such barriers would help the Navy’s collection efforts.

Amaro said the placement of the barrier should take into account currents so that it is effective in returning Sargassum to the sea.

“I always say,’Things from the sea should go to the sea.’ Why do you want to get rid of so many … seaweeds? [on land]?? How to pollute beaches, jungles and the ocean? We’ve already seen that it’s not working. We have to rethink our strategy. “

Laura Artemisa Patiño, president of the environmental group Moce Yax Cuxtal, agrees. “What we want is to collect Sargassum at sea. [environmental] The impact is much less, “she said.

“Hondawara on the coast becomes mud, and white sand stops becoming sand. [becomes] Mud kills the entire surrounding ecosystem. So the first option must be an offshore collection, “says Artemisa.

Josebergos, a fisherman and chairman of the Playa del Carmen Fisheries Cooperative, lamented the impact of excess sargassum on the local economy.

“They didn’t solve this problem in past administrations, and this affects all of us, so we’re still waiting for something to happen: restaurant owners, hotel owners. , A person who massages on the beach, and a person who has a tour boat, “he said.

“… Foreign tourists are not accustomed to these conditions and can even get sick by breathing air,” Burgos said.

Last July, many civil society organizations, including Moce Yax Cuxtal, launched an online petition entitled “SOS.” It’s sinking in Sargassum! Efficient management in the Caribbean Sea of ​​Mexico is an urgent need. “ petitionThe government, which has gained the support of about 25,000 people, has set up barriers and sargassum. Commercial When Industrial Purpose.

However, the response from city, state and federal authorities was inadequate, said Fabiola Sanchez, head of the Puerto Morelos Citizens’ Group who supported the petition.

“They devoted themselves to giving money to each other,” she said. Animal Politico.. “I feel like we’re still buried in Sargassum. There’s little progress … lots of heat, lots of noise, but a little action.”

In the report from Animal Politico “We are buried in Sargassum:” Seaweed arrived early and in large numbers

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