Cancun, Q.R. – A permanent solution is in the works on how to deal with the masses of Sargasso seaweed that has been covering Cancun and Riviera Maya beaches since the spring.
Government officials came up with a plan to place mesh 300 meters from the beach areas.
A two kilometer stretch of Tulum beach was used as a test site. Once caught in the mesh, the Sargasso seaweed is then picked up by boats and returned in the sea current that is directed toward the Yucatan Channel.
Carlos Gosselin Maurel, president of the Hotel Association of Cancun and Puerto Morelos (AHC), says, “We already have the solution on how to keep the beaches free of the kelp, but now we need federal support to permanently prevent another landfall of unexpected kelp and erosion problems, which will allow us to offer beautiful tourism beaches.”
Gosselin Maurel explains that private initiatives to clean the beaches work, but require political, financial and legal support to ensure a resolution. The new solution will keep the kelp in the sea and away from the beaches. He also says that federal authorities can use the federal tax money they get from area businesses, as agreed by the Trust for the Recovery of the Beaches, for the payment of boats needed to return the seaweed to the natural current.
The current test is experimental, so the private sector will have to continue to wait for the final resolution from the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (Semarnat) as well as the Navy (Semar) who are researching the affects the mesh will have on the ecology. They are also trying to get a better understanding of the local ocean currents.
“The best solution is the one that causes the least amount of damage to our natural resources and is the most affordable. Today we have cleaning boats in action, boats that are collecting the seaweed in the Sargasso Sea which has now stopped the arrival of new Sargasso along the beaches. Everything is good as long as it is done within the guidelines of the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources,” said Eduardo Mariscal de la Selva, director of Federal Maritime Zone (Zofemat).
Mariscal de la Selva elaborated by saying that the boats work on collecting the algae in the water to prevent it from reaching the shore, which also helps to not contribute to the constant problem of erosion from lifting and removing the kelp.
Zofemat staff continue to manually collect Sargasso from the beaches in Cancun and along the Riviera Maya.