It was not to be. A ‘Sargassum Summit’ to develop a multinational response to the worsening problem of the sargassum seaweed washing up on some of the best beaches in the Caribbean has had to be postponed. The conference in Cancun, which has been delayed for domestic political reasons, is now expected to take place at a later date. Then Mexico’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs will bring together representatives from government, the private sector, and experts from the Caribbean, Central America and the US to discuss how best to respond to the effect that the environmental phenomena is having on tourism and fisheries, and its damaging economic consequences.
Sargassum, of course, is a type of abundant seaweed creating ocean rafts that stretch for miles. Although ecologically important and a floating habitat for multiple forms of marine life, when carried onshore by prevailing tides and winds, it builds up in the form of a rotting mass of foul-smelling vegetation.
In the past it was largely believed to originate in the Sargasso Sea in the West Atlantic. More recently, however, scientists believe that it has started to arrive in the Caribbean from the equatorial waters between Brazil and West Africa, where sea temperatures are rising as a result of climate change, and where pesticide and fertiliser runoff from the Amazon and Congo rivers is causing it to proliferate…..