Basseterre, St. Kitts (SKNIS): The influx of sargassum seaweed is posing a significant challenge for local fisherfolk plying their trade.
Director of the Department of Marine Resources, Dr. Marc Williams, noted that the seaweed affecting St. Kitts and Nevis originates from the sea between Brazil and West Africa. The thick buildup in the sea and on the shore has reduced the number of days that fisherfolk can operate.
“This has decreased some of the fish catch numbers, especially with our ocean pelagics which are the tuna, dolphin, and swordfish as well as some of the coastal pelagic which are the jacks, ballyhoo and the gar,” Dr. Williams said on the September 15 edition of the radio and television programme Working for You.
Additionally, the market for ocean pelagics has decreased following the drop in demand from hotels and restaurants that continue to grapple with reduced numbers as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Director Williams said that addressing the influx of seaweed is a challenge, given that it does not originate nearby. Removing the seaweed from the sea is also not practical as it would involve the use of a fine net. The fine netting will trap smaller fish which is prohibited in the Federation’s territorial waters.
Dr. Williams noted that in the region, and here in St. Kitts and Nevis, research is currently being conducted to make use of the sargassum seaweed as fertilizer.
“The challenge with using it for fertilizer is that we have to use fresh potable water and you know given the rainfall challenges over the years using rainwater or potable water for the conversion of seaweed into fertilizer is somewhat challenging because the resource is scarce,” he stated.
The washing of the seaweed is designed to reduce the high arsenic levels contained therein.