Cancun, Riviera Maya, Q.R. — Although President Andrés Manuel López Obrador insists that the sargassum issue along the coasts of Quintana Roo is not an emergency, the Secretary of the Navy received 52 million peso to attack the plague as a state problem.
“This problem, like others, has been magnified to question the new government, but there is no cause for concern,” said the president.
Admiral Secretary Raúl Ojeda said “Sargassum is a situation that is occurring in many countries and that we are dealing with it as a state problem. We are solving it with the federal government, the state government, the municipal governments, the private initiative and certain research groups such as Conacyt and the University,” Ojeda explained.
He said that about 939 kilometers of the 994 kilometers of state coasts are affected by the arrival of the sarsassum, but insisted that there is no emergency “because it is not every day nor all the beaches.”
He added that a ship in Ensenada is being refurbished in Manzanillo for the use of sargasso collection and is expected to be operational within six months at a cost of 90 million peso. “Semar is going to build. We have engineers, we are going to design, we already have it, a sargacera (sargassum boat) very similar to the one that is in the trade,” explained Ojeda.
He says they intend to build one sargassum boat per month as resources are allocated with the goal of having a fleet of 10 to 12 boats specifically dedicated to harvesting the sargassum. He also noted that more contracted companies are not likely.
“Not everything is money, because unfortunately over the last six years, a lot of money was invested. Everything was contracts, everything was compromised, and they know that the problem was not solved,” adding that even the antisargasso sea fence barriers are not proving as capable as companies claim.
Governor Carlos Joaquín González highlighted the coordinated work between the three levels of government and noted that at the moment, there have been no reported impacts on international hotel tourism, but did highlight that work must be done quickly to avoid an impact on the seasons of summer and into December.
He said that efforts have been doubled and work will continue to give timely attention to the problem which includes, among other things, a prioritized municipal beach cleaning plan. He said that a Sargasso 2019 Operation will begin with several million peso to prioritize which municipalities need cleaning first.
Of the affected beaches, the government has noted 10 municipalities that include 335 kilometers of beach in Othón P. Blanco, 180 kms in Isla Mujeres, 90 kms of coast along the beaches of Cozumel, 77 kms in the municipality of Tulum, 65 kms of beach in the municipality of Solidaridad (Playa del Carmen), 58 kms in Benito Juarez (Cancun), 56 kms in the municipality of F. Carrillo Puerto, 40 kms in Lázaro Cárdenas, 20 in Bacalar and 18 kms of Puerto Morelos beaches.
Marisol Vanegas Perez, the Secretary of Tourism for Quintana Roo, said that the problem of sargassum in the state is not a serious problem, it is very serious when considering the different ways it is affecting the families who depend on tourism.
She also said she is confident that as the negotiations progress, the necessary support from the federation will flow to the state and a coordinated strategy will be achieved.