Basseterre, St. Kitts (SKNIS): Director of Marine Resources, Dr. Marc Williams, said that the Ministry of Agriculture is currently in the process of researching the sargassum seaweed for fertilizer use and animal feed.
During an interview on August 9 at Lynch’s Bay, Mr. Williams explained the history of sargassum seaweed in the Federation.
“Sargassum as we know it is a seaweed that has traditionally come to the shores of the Federation from the marine environment,” he said.
“The sargassum that we see from 2012 onwards, persons thought it came from the Sargasso Sea which is the body of water around Bermuda and Western Europe, however, satellite imagery has shown that the sargassum within the Caribbean right now is coming from the sea between Brazil and West Africa,” said Dr. Williams.
He said that most of the sargassum that is in the Federation is a result of the increases in atmospheric temperatures as well as nutrient enrichment in the ocean.
“Sargassum prior to 2012 acted like a fish aggregating device where fishers used it to catch mahi-mahi, skipjacks and other pelagics, however, what we have seen since 2012 is that the sargassum seaweed is coming in a large abundance which has prevented fishers from going to fish as well as creating a lot of health issues for the communities that are affected by it,” said Dr. Williams.
In St. Kitts and Nevis, the communities on the Atlantic are affected such as Gingerland, Brick Kiln, New River, New Castle in Nevis and Frigate Bay, Keys, Cayon, Tabernacle, Saddlers, Parson’s Ground, and Dieppe Bay in St. Kitts.
Mr. Williams said that globally, sargassum is being used for clothing apparel and medicine and that many Asian countries use the seaweed to make vitamins and minerals as well as prepare seaweed dishes.
He, however, advised people in the Federation to refrain from using the seaweed as food because it is high in arsenic.