2022 Sargassum seaweed update in the Dominican Republic

"Punta Cana is very contaminated with sargassum. It is a shame that our visitors see the state the beaches are in. They come and cannot enjoy the beach. They come to bathe and when they see the sargassum, they leave," Manual said via Twitter.

2022 Sargassum seaweed update in the Dominican Republic
Boca de Yuma beach has had sargassum for several days. Photo: Eddy Vittini

The message expressed by a citizen, named Manuel Gómez, is clear and forceful: he calls on the Minister of Tourism, David Collado, to intervene in one of the Dominican beaches, Cabeza de Toro, which is being affected by sargassum.

Seeing a before and after is amazing. The color and beauty that characterizes this beach, located in Punta Cana, has been tarnished by this enemy of the ecosystem.

"Punta Cana is very contaminated with sargassum. It is a shame that our visitors see the state the beaches are in. They come and cannot enjoy the beach. They come to bathe and when they see the sargassum, they leave," Manual said via Twitter.

The real estate businessman publicly requested that this beach be intervened, considering that these places represent the country at an international level. This has not been the first call for the intervention of these tourist areas, due to the arrival of sargassum on the beaches of the Dominican Republic.

What the experts think

Ulises Jáuregui, Ph.D. in technical sciences and coordinator at INTEC University, affirmed that the integration of national and regional organizations could contribute to confronting the problem of sargasso on the coasts.

Sargasso is not only a problem for the Dominican Republic but it is also affecting other countries in Latin America and the Caribbean because it makes a route from its points of origin: Brazil and Africa.

Another expert who has spoken on this issue is the engineer and expert in environmental sanitation, André Bisonó, who said that if the competent authorities do not pay attention to this problem, the development of activities such as fishing and tourism will be affected.

If the sargassum is not collected in time, it rots and releases toxic gases such as CO2, causing health problems to those living in nearby localities.

Actions by the Government

The actions and work plans by the Dominican government have been visualized since 2020, speaking of the current administration. In 2020, President Luis Abinader announced the construction of barriers against sargasso and a beach regeneration plan. At the end of that year, Abinader led the signing of two agreements on this issue.

The first was between the Ministry of Tourism, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), and the Association of Hotels and Tourism of the Dominican Republic (Asonahores). With this signature, they committed to the intervention and rescue of 35 beaches in the Dominican Republic.

The other agreement was signed between the Ministry of Tourism and Asonahores. This agreement created a fund of US$11,891,884.00 to mitigate and manage the sargasso on the coasts of the country.

Dominican Republic sargassum problem

The arrival of sargassum is one of the major problems affecting the Dominican Republic. A challenge that must be solved immediately is to avoid both marine life and beach activities being affected by this species of macroalgae, which has no mercy on the ecosystems of the sea.

If attention is not paid to this problem, it could affect the development of activities such as fishing, coastal communities, tourism, and the enjoyment of bathers. The seaweed has already proven to be present in this year 2022 mainly in the east of the country. To avoid this problem there are different types of feasible defenses, highlighting the collection in the open sea and at the level of the coasts, but always focusing the priority on avoiding that it covers and invades completely the things and beaches.

Benefits and tourism

Among the benefits that sargassum could have after its collection, is its use as raw material when creating the so-called compost for soil fertilization. "You can make liquid fertilizer, compost, and other products that can come out of the seaweed, they are being developed and are very promising," he suggested.

The Dominican beaches have been affected by the arrival of sargassum because they tuck things in and cause tourists cannot fully enjoy their vacations. Implementing heavy machinery for the removal of the seaweed when it is deposited on the beaches, causes the erosion of the sand, and also entails additional expenses for the sector.

Source: N Digital