The government has expressed that they are on top of the growing Sargassum Seaweed issue in the territory which has now made its way to uncommon areas on the sister island of Anegada, following the passage of the then Tropical Storm Earl.
Photos and videos depicting the extent of the seaweed on the southern side of Anegada were shared with our newsroom on Wednesday.
That prompted 284News to reach out to residents on the sister island to grasp the extent of the issue which stems from the climate change phenomenon.
One resident by the name of Kelly Soares said the amount of seaweed that she saw settled on that area of the island reminded her of a similar rare occasion back in 2019.
“I live right here on the waterfront and it’s affecting the whole southside of Anegada pretty much…There’s a lot more coming in, I’m watching it coming in all now. There’s a lot of dead fish and shrimp-looking things, and it stinks. It’s terrible”, she said.
She added, “I know that we cannot stop it from coming in, I know that, but the situation up here right now is going to get worse how I see it, because there’s a lot more coming in. It goes and it comes, the seaweed is always in and out but it’s never like this. It came after this storm. I guess it got worse after the storm. But the last time I saw it exactly like this was in 2019 because it goes all past the dock.”
Not all beaches have been impacted
284News also reached out to the District Representative Honourable Vincent Wheatley who at the time was on the sister island after traveling to assess the extent of the seaweed issue.
He said it was not as bad as he initially thought following some of the reports he heard from residents, but said plans are in place to address the areas affected.
“I had a chance to visit the popular beaches on Anegada, like Cow Wreck Beach, I’m here at Loblolly and the sargassum seaweed is not anything to be concerned about at this point in time. The major area appears to be down Setting Point in front of the Anegada Reef Hotel…But we’ve been advised not to do anything since it really started last night, to wait for a few days before any action is taken so it kind of settles itself to see what’s going to happen,” he said.
Plans set out to address the issue
Our news agency also spoke to the Minister for Natural Resources Honourable Melvin “Mitch” Turnbull who said he was aware of the seaweed situation.
The minister said he along with colleague Wheatley coordinated a cleanup plan to address the situation after most of the seaweed have settled.
He said, “On Anegada, because of how the storm passed, the wind is coming from the south which is causing seaweed to go in areas that we haven’t seen much of before in the past. On Anegada, I have been in contact with the District Rep from yesterday, including this morning as well, along with some of the community partners that worked with us regarding the whale situation.”
“So the representative and myself have now coordinated a team that because the waves are still high, there’s some sargassum that can be seen off the shoreline of the reef area, they’re going to monitor it and then tomorrow work a plan of attack for addressing it with the machines and teams for trucking it etcetera”, he added.
Cane Garden Bay issue also being addressed
Minister Turnbull also spoke about the Sargassum Seaweed issue which recently affected the shoreline in Cane Garden Bay, one of the areas in the territory that is rarely affected by this phenomenon.
He said elderly residents in the area were shocked to see the extent of the seaweed that had washed ashore.
“I personally went down to assess the situation there. I think that was the first time persons said from that area, the eldest of whom I talked to was 75-76 years old and they have never seen sargassum in Cane Garden Bay in their entire lives. But we had a group of persons already mobilised because we knew we were anticipating the arrival of Disney (cruise). So on Monday on the western side of the beach which goes from Quito’s all the way down… a group of persons together with Conservation and Fisheries teams, they cleaned up the beach,” he said.
“On the eastern side of the beach the trucks and excavators are still working because that’s where the majority of the sargassum came in so those guys are going to continue removing seaweed from that end of the beach,” the minister added.
Turnbull said his ministry has already commenced the process of assessing some of the other areas across the territory to see where else have been impacted.
He assured residents that plans will be devised to address all affected areas.