Cumberbatch, J.

Sargassum management brief

Golden Times: Management Best Practices for Influxes of Sargassum in the Caribbean with a focus on clean-up.

The purpose of this management brief is to enable government officials, coastal managers, beach caretakers and coastal residents to get ahead of the “golden tides” by providing up-to-date information on the recent ‘Sargassum influxes’ (arrival of unprecedented mass quantities of sargassum seaweed) in the Caribbean region; and, importantly, by offering guidance on how best to sustainably manage the seaweed, based on lessons learnt to date. This first brief focuses on the immediate problem of clean-up, after mass strandings of the weed. Others will be developed that focus on potential commercial uses of the weed and on adaptation measures suitable for fishers and other vessel operators. This is all part of the on-going efforts by The University of the West Indies and a number of other institutions in the Wider Caribbean to actively research and understand this new phenomenon and develop solutions.

In 2011, the shores of several Caribbean islands and West African countries were inundated by unprecedented quantities of pelagic Sargassum. Since then, influxes of this golden-brown seaweed have become a recurrent event in both the Caribbean Sea and West Africa, with observers in these regions reporting levels reaching a critical high in 2015. These influxes have given rise to a number of serious socio-ecological and economic concerns, particularly in the hospitality and fisheries sectors.

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