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DOE says drought affects magnitude of Sargassum

While nobody seems to be able to definitively pinpoint the source of the New River’s contamination, much less offer a definitive solution, a prolonged drought as a result of the much vilified climate change has been cited as one of the factors. But climate change, in its role as villain, wears many different hats and has also been blamed for a critical contamination of Belize’s waters, beaches, and coast. We’re talking that stinking seaweed called sargassum. This week, Chief Environmental Officer, Martin Alegria, spoke to Love News about the sargassum situation.

Martin Alegria, Chief Environmental Officer, Department of Environment: “It’s a more climate change issue in terms of increased temperature globally, not in Belize or the western hemisphere, it’s global and the more temperature you have, the more rich nutrients that reach the seas that’s what creates all these sargassum blooms, similar to what we are talking about the algae bloom, the eutrophication in the New River similarly at a bigger scale is the bloom of sargassum then reaches on land and how we go about addressing that that is a hell of a task because it is a global scenario. So right now with the “small” amounts coming on mainland Belize for example compared to Mexico that is huge but in Belize even the little amount that we are experiencing is costly, very costly, prohibitive sometimes to address. Imagine what would happen five or ten years from now when the temperatures, god forbid, raises more and you have more blooms and more tons coming on stream and more frequent. Right now we have luls, it depends on the northerlies, or the easterly flow, in the next ten or twenty years if we continue the way we are these sargassum blooms will be daily and instead of you spending $1,000 to clean up your side of the beach on a weekly basis it will be $10,000. But solutions have to be found to address what is happening and at a bigger and global scale we need the climate change agenda to advance faster. We are a member of the sargassum task force, we have been collaborating with them in trying to suggest solutions, do piloting with these booms that try to divert or trap, these are things that we have been working with and trying to work with the task force but it’s through the task force not directly through.”

According to Alegria, the problem will only get worse in coming years, so the country will need to formulate a comprehensive strategy now, based on information that is already available, such as clean-up costs, tides and wind direction.