PADF has been getting feedback from local residents in Belize about the prevalence of a brown seaweed called sargassum. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, sargassum "floats in island-like masses" and "provides a home to an amazing variety of marine species" including sea turtles, which use them as nurseries.
However, not everyone is a fan of the weed. According to Newsweek, not only is sargassum "an inconvenience for beachgoers," it's a "potential economic disaster for those who earn their living from tourism and other coastal industries."
PADF staffers have also seen sargassum invade beaches in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad and Tobago. We recently posted on our PADF Belize Facebook page asking for locals to chime in about the problem. The response was overwhelming. It's great to see the community so engaged!
One local said the seaweed "stench is unbearable," while another praised its beauty. Others spoke generally about the ongoing problems of beach erosion.
PADF is working to address these and other issues with its new Coastal Community Resiliency initiative. Funded by the Government of Taiwan, the project aims to help prepare and protect vulnerable populations in southern Belize from extreme weather and the effects of climate change.
Many local residents in Southern Belize expressed an interest in volunteering to combat the seaweed problem, though it is unclear how that can be accomplished. Sargassum isn't easy to untangle; More than 8,400 tons of seaweed was recorded in one day on a beach in Galveston Island, Texas, Newsweek reported. One idea is to support beach clean-up efforts and then seek people or companies interested in using Sargassum as an agricultural bi-product. Please share your comments and stay tuned for details about a focus group.
Regardless of where you stand on the issue, we'd like to hear from you. Stay tuned about a focus group in Southern Belize. For more information about the project, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.