Plan in works to tackle Sargassum long-term

| 12/06/2019 | 51 Comments
Cayman News Service

Sargassum seaweed at Coewood Beach

(CNS): With an abundance of sargassum seaweed currently in the local waters, which is washing up and piling several feet high on Cayman’s beaches, Joey Hew, the minister responsible for the Recreation, Parks and Cemeteries Unit, has said that a long-term plan is being shaped to tackle the increasing problem. He also revealed that equipment being used to remove the often smelly and unsightly seaweed from the beach has failed and more money is needed to invest in a long-term approach, including new and specialised equipment as well as more workers.

Hew told the Legislative Assembly last week that his ministry was considering bringing the summer national clean-up programme, known as NiCE, forward so that they could recruit more people looking for unskilled work to clean up the beaches.

Answering a question from opposition MLA Kenneth Bryan (GTC) about what government was doing about the sargassum, the minister said government “was very aware” of the challenges and was providing support for the unit to deal with it in an environmentally friendly manner, given that it is turtle nesting season, which meant avoiding removing sand from the beaches.

Describing it as a “tremendous task”, Hew said the goal was to develop an appropriate long-term plan and his ministry was working with the Department of Environment to shape that plan. He said that government wanted to work on the most severely affected areas first and give consideration to the winds and currents so the people involved in the clean up can move in a comprehensive way.

Hew said that once the plan was in place they could recruit more people under the clean-up programme. The failure of equipment meant that the clean-up was partially stalled but, he said, the process was underway to buy several pieces of more suitable equipment, estimated to cost about $150,000.

Cayman News Service

Sargassum seaweed at Coewood Beach

However, work was still being done by parks and recreation staff on the beaches, manually and using a backhoe, especially at Coewood Beach in Bodden Town, one of the worst affected beaches. The minister said that government had contracted local private beach-cleaning companies to help with the worst-hit areas.

He said that once the report for the long-term plan was finalised, based on the technical and environmental issues regarding the movement of the sargassum, he would circulate it and provide more details on the cost of the specialist equipment. 

Sargassum is a type of common seaweed that floats on ocean currents in large matted areas that can stretch for miles. It is an important ecosystem as it serves as a nursery for juvenile fish, but the current abundance is causing significant problems for all countries in the region.

The rise of sea temperatures and the change of sea currents due to climate change, as well as an increase in the run-off of nutriments from agricultural fertilizers and wastewater from cities, are all believed to be fuelling the blooms.

The DoE has said the sargassum is a problem that is here to stay, with more influxes expected throughout this summer.

Given the need to protect the sand on local beaches and turtles, the DoE, which is part of the task force working on the plan to tackle it here, has warned that a relatively small amount can have a big impact and the department has been working on solutions.

While ocean currents generally protect the Cayman Islands coastline from sargassum, the sheer quantity in the area, along with strong winds, is pushing it over the reef and onto the beaches.

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Category: Land Habitat, Marine Environment, Science & Nature

Comments (51)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    99% Sargassum is never on my beach, yet surrounds me.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Start a business selling Sargassum as fertilizer.
    Perhaps the new Coral empty building on Frank Sound can accommodate them.
    Those addresses are checked concerning…right?
    Go East! They did…?
    Think about Tom, the Kite sailing tourist who died in December when launching, hitting the bathroom building at Colliers Public Beach where for years White Sands and entities, have been doing business from.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Leave it where it is and plant mangroves in it.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Crabs in a Bucket.. How can this idea not be more encouraged?
    Let’s see how they handle it but good lord can you not be more positive? If not, then get your asses out to vote next election! More importantly, stop voting back in the SAME knobs!!

  5. Ron Ebanks says:

    I seen in the Florida Keys where they had a tractor rigged with a big steel rake
    attached to the back and the operator just kept making passes until the the
    beach was cleaned in about an hour or two . Of course he had to come back the next
    day .

    • Anonymous says:

      Come look at the ‘beach’ opposite lantern point (Prospect Point). Come down the Public Access. The sargassum is waaaaay worse than Coes or South Sound but absolutely nothing has been done (some work was done around the corner by the monument but they had a foot or so).

      Sargassum along this coast is up to 6’ high and 40-50’ deep. Yes. That is feet not inches!

    • Anonymous says:

      And squashed all the turtle nests

      • Anonymous says:

        Suffocated everything on the beach and in the shallows.
        Sargassum at sea is good for marine life, but when it comes ashore, it dries out & rots. Then it stinks & kills the sea life in the area.

      • Anonymous says:

        Better to catch them early than leave them for the poachers.

  6. Have you DONE anything? says:

    “A long-term plan IS BEING shaped”
    “his ministry WAS CONSIDERING”
    “they COULD recruit more people”

    Joey Hew, have you actually DONE ANYTHING in the 7 years you’ve been in office??

  7. Anonymous says:

    Hope Mr. Hew’s “plans” include reducing global warming!!

    • Anonymous says:

      Yeah, because Cayman can certainly make an impact on changing global temperatures….

      • Anonymous says:

        Every little bit counts you numbnut.

        • Anonymous says:

          No it really doesn’t. Not when India and China have 35% of the world’s population and consider it their right to pollute as much as they want in the name of development.

        • Anonymous says:


          Cayman can do as much as you would like it to do and it will not count in this case.

          The cause of this Sargasso bloom that has taken place over the last few years and will continue for years to come and has nothing to do with what Cayman does, nor global warming.

          This problem originates from two places, the Gulf of Mexico and off the coast of Brazil. The prevailing ocean currents brings it into the Eastern Caribbean and it flows through the Caribbean to join up with the Gulf Stream. Cayman just happens to be in its path.

          The cause of the problem also has nothing to do with what Cayman does, as we do not pour agricultural nutrients into the ocean through rivers and streams and have, no agricultural industry to speak of, and what is here are well away from access to the ocean.

          The excess Sargasso we experience now is almost all due to the fact that along the coast of Brazil there are hundreds of rivers and streams emptying into the Atlantic. These rivers carry all the runoff fertilizers and nutrients into the ocean where they feed the Sargasso growth that results in the mess we now have on our beaches. Until Brazil cleans up the mess that fuels this abnormal growth, not much will chance, no matter what Cayman does environmentally

          I am not suggesting that Cayman stop doing all the things that we do now for the environment, however a little perspective on the impact that Cayman can have on the world, or global warming, is really needed.

    • Anonymous says:

      Fix the damn dump Joey!

  8. Anonymous says:

    This is great entertainment. I can’t wait to see what the greatest Caymanian minds will think up all on their own then try and make it work. I hope there is video.

    • Anonymous says:

      Keep the flipping turtle activists out of this. They will destroy the natural build-up of the beaches to protect the turtles.

      No problem with manually clearing the main turtle laying beaches but certainly not the clearing of all beaches.

      And for those numbnuts that built on the beach but now complain about a natural process and scent – just suck it and smell it up!


  9. DCB says:

    Actually if left there it traps more sand and make your property bigger.

    • Anonymous says:

      My friend, your suggestions makes too much sense!

      Being humans, we will mess with this natural healing cycle and create another one.

      Leave the weed!

  10. Anonymous says:

    I’ve heard that it is sometimes used as fertilizer on land – could it be used here as that?

    • Anonymous says:

      Not unless you leeched it forever or processed it somehow. It’s full of salt.

      • Anonymous says:

        Wrong. Because of the salt, it decomposes faster. It’s really easy to make.

      • Anonymous says:

        Try rinsing the salt off next time. This is the best free fertilizer ever.but some of you won’t use it unless it comes in a plastic bag.

        • Anonymous says:

          Yeah – rinse it off with all that reverse osmosis water than costs a fortune. Why not use Evian whilst you are about it.

      • Anonymous says:

        Sargassum is NOT a weed, it is an algae that free floats.
        When rotting it gives off Hydrogen Sulfide, which is not only flammable, but also poisonous and potentially harmful to health.
        It has a natural ability to attract heavy metals, such as Cadmium and Arsenic, so fertiliser use may not be wise if it should leach into the ground, food or water reserves.
        And finally, look it up online and see how other countries are affected and what they advise their citizens to do.
        Note what the French environmental agency advise in their territories, it’s alarming considering Cayman are blindly avoiding health concerns.

        • Anonymous says:



          You read like an armchair internet scientist that reads 1 or 2 “research” articles on a topic and then writes as if you’re an expert!

          Perhaps you currently own or are planning to own a company to sell your services in Cayman.

          Stop being an alarmist and educate yourself some more!

  11. Anonymous says:

    You would think all the patrons of Coe Wood Beach would be helping keep it clean!

    • Anonymous says:

      Pay them $10 an hour and most of them would. The same folk have helped me round the yard and repairing things for years. They are not that bad if you give them a chance.

    • Anonymous says:

      Those patrons are not interested in picking up weed …………. at least not that kind of weed!

  12. Anonymous says:

    what plan?…this is typical ppm management speak nonsense….
    they have no plan….they are only planning to make a plan that they may plan to introduce…..

  13. SSM345 says:

    Has Hew considered all the “workers” sitting on their arses at HMP?

    • Anonymous says:

      We don’t want them out stealing our dogs and stuff thanks.

    • Anonymous says:

      don’t you mean public works department?

    • Anonymous says:

      That’s what I have been saying for a decade. They should be up, fed and and out at dawn cleaning up the entire islands beaches properly supervised, back by mid-morning, all year round and get rewarded for it in some way.

  14. Anonymous says:

    that sargasm stinks like rotten corpses. I WILL NOT drive down south sound, cause the smell is so bad. I can’t even put a towel over my nose to prevent the smell. I should wipe ass with toilet paper, and then put it up my nostrils but the sargasm would still probably smell worse.
    I say scorched earth policy, Douse that crap with gasoline and watch it burn. While playing vietnam war era music.

  15. Anonymous says:

    When mankind starts living right, the earth will show him more respect. In the meantime, keep looking to your scientists, they were there when all this was created, weren’t they?

  16. Anonymous says:

    The equipment failed…? You mean, someone bought inappropriate equipment? Or did the workers break it a la DEH garbage rtrucks? Or do you just want an opportunity to have another procurement given the – ahem, “opportunities” – that provides?

    • Anonymous says:

      1.34pm Maybe due to urgent requests from the tourism sector Govt used equipment on hand which was not really designed for this particular failed. When it comes to seems that they are often damned if they do or damned if they don’t do.

  17. No more fricken committees says:

    Meanwhile, in Mexico, a man is building houses from bricks made from sargassum – and they don’t stink. Surely our leaders should ask themselves: “How can we make this work for us (as an island)?!” For heaven’s sake, please just don’t establish a committee to look into it.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Good news that they are looking long term. Hopefully it can be used for fertilizer or some other means to use what nature gives us. (even though it stanks!)

    • Anonymous says:

      I know what the long term permanent solution (or as near as we can get) is, but it costs four times what the Minister is looking for (which is why I can’t do it). $150k won’t get a long term solution.

  19. Anonymous says:

    just leave the weed!

    Our beaches desperately need it more.

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