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Cancun Sargasso strategy meetings held between officials, scientists

Cancun, Q.R. — Meetings have been held between the Ministry of the Navy and the Technical Advisory Council in an attempt to move forward with a sargasso solution.

So far, authorities say they understand efforts made only serve the short-term, but they are working on longer-term solutions. Admiral Enrique Flores Morado presented the Navy’s Operational Program to the council to develop long-term strategies.

“The strength of this strategy lies in the coordination of the three levels of government as well as in the participation of volunteers and the concessionaires of the Federal Maritime Terrestrial Zone,” he said.

During the meeting, the Navy and the CTA agreed to create a permanent program of action and systematization of sargasso information as well as of infrastructure for sea containment. They have also agreed on the importance of developing a preventive program to lower discharged nutrient concentrations in the sea, which, they say, only intensifies the problem.

Flores Morado explained that scientists have recognized the damage being done by the decaying sargasso when it hits land, noting that they have all agreed it is best to collect the seaweed in the water before it hits the coast. “We should not leave the sargasso to die on the coast for more than 48 hours,” he said.

He also said they know the sea barriers are not 100 percent effective since the seaweed moves and spreads, which complicates the collection process. Continually collecting it on land will create erosion and have a negative impact on beaches, which makes it important to collect as much as possible at sea.

The Admiral explained that for the medium-term, “we are building sargassers and repairing a ship in navy shipyard that will be used for sargasso collection.” The long term will include the design and building of sargasso vessels specifically for offshore functions.

Quintana Roo scientists Víctor Alcérreca and Pricila Sosa said that information is important since knowing the amount of arriving sargasso is necessary to determine an effective strategy. Another meeting is scheduled for August 19.