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Riviera Maya continues to make lemonade out of lemons from excessive arrival of sargassum

Playa del Carmen, Q.R. — In making lemonade out of lemons, or in this case bricks out of sargassum, 800 sarga-blocks have been made for a local high school. The sarga-blocks, which are building bricks made from locally washed up sargassum, were donated by the city of Playa del Carmen last week.

According to Solidaridad Zofemat Director, Lourdes Várguez Ocampo, the 800 bricks were donated to the Gabriel García Márquez High School so that they can take advantage of the resource to build new benches for the students.

The bricks were made from some of the 3,950 tons of sargassum that has already been removed from Playa del Carmen beaches this year. According to Mayor Lili Campos, Zofemat and the Navy will continue working together to ensure clean beaches.

While Zofemat is responsible for keeping the beaches clean, the Navy is responsible for the sargassum at sea. She says that through Zofemat and the Secretary of the Navy, they team up for better management, redirection and collection of the seaweed.

According to Ocampo, “the Navy is responsible for putting two sargassum vessels into operation, placing the anchor points for the anti-sargassum barriers and then the barriers themselves and redirecting them in order to concentrate the sargassum in the beaches of 14 and 16 Streets North.

She said the brown algae will be concentrated in those areas for manual collection where it will be forked from the beach onto trucks from where it will be deposited into a site. At the site, the seaweed is dried and the sand retrieved and redeposited around city beaches.

Between January and February, she said 15,000 tons of sand was recovered from the dried sargassum and trucked back to beaches, which she called a “successful process with good results. In addition, we also stopped paying 6 million pesos a year for depositing the sargassum in the sanitary landfill,” she added.

On Tuesday, Mayor Campos announced that anti-sargassum barriers will be installed off the coast of Playa del Carmen toward the end of April. She also said that Zofemat Solidaridad is currently looking to hire 60 people to fill sargassum-related work positions.