The San Pedro Town Council (SPTC) embarked on its action plan to counterattack the Sargassum that is wreaking havoc on the island. This week the SPTC declared the beaching of sargassum a natural disaster on the island of Ambergris Caye. The amount of seaweed has become unbearable, including the smell and other negative effects the rotting sea plant has on the island.
Part of the San Pedro Town Council’s action plan is a two-day cleanup campaign that commenced today at 6a.m. The Council, headed by Councilor Gary Greif, gathered local resources, assistance and volunteers for the manual removal of the tons of beached sargassum. Local businesses like Castillo’s Hardware donated pitch forks, rakes and trash bags while construction companies offered the services of their trucks, tractors and larger equipment like backhoes and loaders.
Hotels like Ramons’ Village volunteered numbers staff members to join other residents who heeded to the Town Council’s call for the community cleanup. San Pedro Mayor, Daniel Guerrero said that he was impressed with the turnout this morning.
Deputy Mayor, Ruben Gonzalez, does not shy away from the hard work of cleaning the sargassum
Castillo's Hardware donates cleaning supplies for the cleanup campaign
The staff of Ramon's Village lends a helping hand to the community
With the looks of the amount of sargassum on the beach, it will take more man power and a larger community effort to make an impact on the cleanup efforts. It’s a daunting task, but one that needs to be tackled head strong. Already the smell of the decomposing sargassum is affecting the tourism industry and the lack of beautiful beaches and crystal blue sea by the shore is driving visitors away. Residents are suffering from breathing complications, itchy skin, problematic breathing and sensitive eyes. The sargassum’s hydrogen sulfide byproduct as it rots is also affecting electronics, mostly televisions that have gone bad in the past months plus is corroding silver and other metals.
The San Pedro Town Council and other stakeholders are also looking at several options as a long term plan that will minimize the sargassum from beaching on the island. These options include the possible acquisition of water deflection booms that would be placed at a 2/3 distance between the island and the reef. Both local and international technicians have visited San Pedro to conduct bathymetric and current flow studies. It is their belief that the placement of these water deflecting booms will prevent the sargassum from making landfall and instead current will take it pass the southern end of Ambergris Caye. Councilor Greif has been dialoguing with resort owners whom are in the process of purchasing similar type of booms, which in the future will be able to be part of the larger project.
It will take a collective effort to ensure that we keep our island clean, for both our locals and tourists to enjoy. The Council is urging island residents, as well as the business sector, the tourism sector, non-governmental organizations, government agencies and our national government to join our collective efforts in addressing this issue, both in the short and long terms. The Council will be keeping residents informed and updated on its plans against sargassum.
Thanks to all the volunteers who have come out to help.