A proposal has been made by the Ministry of Infrastructure to rid beaches across the territory of the sargassum seaweed.
According to Infrastructure Minister Joey Hew, the government is thinking of hiring the unemployed as it pushes forward its National Community Enhancement programme (NICE), in order to deal with influxes of the foul-smelling seaweed.
He noted that the invasive weed has, for several weeks, clogged the shoreline around Grand Cayman and equipment failures had prevented the government from moving it as fast as he would like.
The Infrastructure minister said the option to recruit unemployed Caymanians for temporary work, was being discussed and officials were formulating a long-term action plan to manage the growing problem.
“We are considering moving up the ‘Pride’ clean-up to assist them once the equipment arrives and we have a comprehensive plan in place,” he said.
Increasing ocean temperatures and pollution from fertilisers have been blamed for unusually high sargassum blooms in the Atlantic in recent years.
In a recent interview with the Cayman Compass newspaper, Tim Austin, deputy director of the Department of Environment, said the problem was likely here to stay.
Earlier this year, the Belize-based Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) initiated a regional fact-finding study to document the record-breaking influx of Sargassum seaweed in the Caribbean Sea in 2018, and the impacts this phenomenon has been having on countries in the region since 2011.
CRFM said that over the past seven years, massive Sargassum influxes have been having adverse effects on national and regional economies in the Caribbean, with substantial loss of livelihoods and economic opportunities, primarily in the fisheries and tourism sectors.
It said large Sargassum influxes had been experienced in this region in 2011, 2014 and 2015, but it reached unprecedented levels in 2018, with more Sargassum affecting the Caribbean for a longer period of time than had previously been observed.
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