Puerto Morelos beaches free of sargassum

09/01/2020

Puerto Morelos declared itself ready to face the arrival of the sargassum to its coasts, informed the municipal president, Laura Fernández Piña, who affirmed that the anti-sargassum barriers continue to be installed to guarantee clean beaches during the winter.

Sargassum-free beaches reported in Puerto Morelos
Sargassum-free beaches reported in Puerto Morelos

The mayor added that the idea of keeping the barriers in place during the current holiday season is to ensure that during this holiday period the beaches of Puerto Morelos are free of sargassum and therefore they will be maintained until the next season, since the forecast for the next arrival of these seaweeds is still uncertain, because last year at this time the coasts had the presence of sargassum, a situation that is not currently present.

"We have clean beaches so that vacationers can enjoy the sands," she explained.

And she pointed out that "we are prepared 365 days a year, as we know Puerto Morelos has been a part of the strategy to fight against the sargassum and we hope that this strategy can really attend to the length and breadth of our coast and we are ready".

Laura Fernández added that through the Puerto Morelos protocol there is permanent interaction with the embassies and companies that have made various proposals regarding the benefits of these seaweeds and therefore the importance of participating in the projects to take advantage of the sargasso, she also considered that they can lay the foundations for a potential co-investment in projects for commercial purposes.

Finally, she said that they would only be waiting for the federal agencies involved in the creation of the Mexican Official Standards (NOM) to generate the technical regulation and specific guidelines as well as the rules for commercial use of sargassum, mainly in the industry. 

PROBLEMATIC NATURAL PHENOMENON

The Mexican Caribbean faces a problem due to the arrival of sargassum to its beaches, almost permanent and repetitive situation year after year, and that in addition to Mexico, it affects 15 countries of the region.

May is the month in which the arrival of the largest volumes of sargassum begins, and it is anticipated that in the summer the influx will be even more.

According to statistics, last year the most affected areas were Tulum and the Mahahual area, followed by Puerto Morelos. In a smaller proportion, Cancún was affected. Cozumel and Isla Mujeres were the least prejudiced.

EXPERTS WARNED ABOUT THE DANGER OF THE SEAWEED

Researchers Brigitta Ine van Tussenbroek and Rosa Elisa Rodríguez Martínez, both from the Puerto Morelos Reef Systems Academic Unit of the Institute of Marine Sciences and Limnology of the UNAM, had already anticipated the phenomenon of sargassum since 2018 and even earlier. By 2020 it will remain the same or even more severe than in previous years, which is an uncertain scenario since there are no studies that allow us to know the capacity of resilience of the marine environment before this phenomenon.

Van Tussenbroek has ensured that the sargassum phenomenon puts at risk from seagrass to the coral reef and if not addressed in a comprehensive manner, could even change the turquoise hue of the Mexican Caribbean, because the brown tide, as well as the phenomenon, is known of the sargassum could settle on the seabed and modify the chemical composition of the environment.

For his part, Rodríguez Martínez said recently that without a comprehensive plan that considers industrialization of sargassum and efficient capture on the high seas, the actions announced by the federal government will be insufficient.

"One of the problems is that it is thought that the sargassum is accumulated somewhere and the boat is going to be very easy to pick it up, but what we see is that it is scattered in spots, lines, distributed everywhere."

The specialist indicated that the isolated efforts on the high seas or the simple placement of barriers will not work on their own if they are not part of a comprehensive strategy, such as satellite monitoring for the precise location of the patches on the high seas; the coordination of the sargassum ships with the containment barriers, and the enabling of sufficient sites for the final confinement of the algae.

This last point must be complemented with the industrialization of sargassum since there is no place to support the 200,000 tons of this alga that reached the beaches of Quintana Roo during 2018.

Rosa Elisa Rodríguez said that Quintana Roo does not currently have final disposal sites for the algae that is collected on the beaches, "nor are there statistics on the volume and frequency of the sargassum top-up (...) that implies that any industry of exploitation of the sargassum that pretends to establish lacks the knowledge on the availability of the raw material".

By Mexicanist