Harvesting Sargassum – A Multi-Departmental opportunity, not an oceanic challenge

It’s that time of year when Barbadians must not only be on guard for the weather, but look to an annual challenge along its shores – Sargassum seaweed. Now the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy is spearheading the cause with a multi-departmental alliance in bringing the challenge to bear.

In a carefully mapped out test involving the Barbados Coast Guard, the BADMC, the Ministry of Transport as well as members of the Barbados Water Authority along with the Fisheries Division of the Maritime Affairs ministry, a sargassum harvester was put into a successful field test at Consett Bay in St John early on the morning of July 9th, 2020.

Minister <strong>Kirk Humphrey</strong> likened the harvester to a large vessel that would allow persons to remove the algae straight off the sea.

Minister Kirk Humphrey likened the harvester to a large vessel that would allow persons to remove the algae straight off the sea.

He explained how the conveyor belt is used to extract the seaweed and transfer it straight to shore, while the tractor would be modified to pull it off the sand. In addition, Minister Humphrey reminded how Government spent close to $300,000 Bds acquiring the sargassum harvester along with a tractor and conveyor, once deployed correctly, he said it would help transform the country.

The Minister was on hand to witness the successful implementation and in expressing thanks to the Coast Guard under the command of Lieutenant Commander Rocheford, Minister Humphrey noted how the seaweed harvester was able to dredge sargassum both close to shore and in deeper waters where the seasonal plant life drifts in to Barbadians shores.

The Minister of Maritime Affairs & the Blue Economy urged for more small businesses to come on board for using sargassum whether as a source of methane for renewable energy or as a means of fertilising crops and lands, and Mr Humphrey appreciated the input of CERMES (the Centre for Resource Management and Environmental Studies) in this regard.

Lieutenant Commander Rocheford stated it was a distinct honour to liaise with the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and the other departments to conduct a successful operation, he added the Coast Guard will continue to assess the various shorelines of Barbados to determine the most accessible way to deploy the Sargassum Harvester for maximum potential and look forward to more operations of a similar nature in the immediate future.

Plans are already in development to perform similar extractions along Barbados’ southern coastline.

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