South Trinidad fishermen grounded by sargassum seaweed

Sargassum seaweed

(Trinidad Guardian) Fish­er­men in the south­west­ern penin­su­la say mas­sive quan­ti­ties of sar­gas­sum sea­weed is ham­per­ing their abil­i­ty to fish.

The sea­weed is so bad that some fish­er­men have an­chored their boats and have not ven­tured out to the ocean in over three weeks.

When Guardian Me­dia vis­it­ed the area on Wednes­day, the foul-smelling weeds lined the Ica­cos beach where dozens of boats were an­chored.

Pres­i­dent of the Ica­cos Unit­ed Fish­er­men As­so­ci­a­tion Gary Ed­wards said as many as 800 fish­er­men were af­fect­ed.

Call­ing on the Min­istry to clean the beach on a reg­u­lar ba­sis, Ed­wards said they could not even walk on the beach be­cause of the weeds.

Fish­er­man Ram­char­i­tar Massey said the weeds were now about three feet high on the beach.

“The trac­tors are sink­ing in the beach. It is very frus­trat­ing for us,” he added.

Ralph Gob­in who has been fish­ing for 30 years said he can­not take the stress so he has parked up his boat.

“I al­so do elec­tri­cal work and that is how I am earn­ing a liv­ing these days,” he said.

Kim­ber­ly Ram­per­sad who fish with her hus­band said it did not make any sense go­ing out to sea.

“We have two chil­dren and things are very hard for us. We spend $500 for a con­tain­er of gas and when we go out there all we are catch­ing are weeds. We have to spend all day clean­ing the nets. The sea­weed is chas­ing away the fish,” she said.

Boat cap­tain Dan­ny Ed­wards said they could no longer go far out to sea as the Guardia Na­cional and Venezue­lan pi­rates were tak­ing them cap­tive.

“We have to work clos­er to the shore and even so it is dan­ger­ous for us. I was kid­napped and held for ran­som so I will not take any chances to go fur­ther out. I have no choice but to fish near the shore,” he said.

Coun­cil­lor for the area Shankar Teelucks­ingh said the Siparia Re­gion­al Cor­po­ra­tion has been work­ing to clear parts of the beach.

He said the fish­er­men who har­vest shrimp were al­so bad­ly af­fect­ed. Teelucks­ingh said he was hope­ful that the Gov­ern­ment could find a way to process the sea­weed and use it as a fer­til­iz­er. He said sev­er­al loads of weeds have al­ready been moved from the shore.

“This is an on­go­ing process. We con­tin­ue to work with them to clear the beach­front. It is very pol­lut­ed. We con­tin­ue to spray the area for in­sects and to work to­wards al­le­vi­at­ing the stench caused by the rot­ting sea­weed,” he said. Teelucks­ingh said mass­es of the sar­gas­sum floats from the Orinoco Riv­er and bring with it an­i­mals and oth­er or­gan­isms.

What is Sar­gas­sum sea­weed?

Sar­gas­sum is a brown al­gae and the ‘grapes’ are the air blad­ders, which keep it afloat. It may look like the at­tached ma­rine plants found in coastal wa­ters, but it is found in the mid­dle of the North At­lantic Gyre. The area, of about two mil­lion square miles, is known as the Sar­gas­so Sea.

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