Playa del Carmen, Q.R. — While a recent shift in winds has relieved some beaches of arriving seaweed, there are still piles that require attention. With that, more than 70 offenders have been repaying their debt to society by helping to clear beaches.
A program that began in mid-March that gives minor offenders a choice between a fine, jail time or sargassum shoveling, has proven popular. Outfitted with an orange vest, these groups of men spend their supervised days volunteering to remove the seaweed rather than serve time or pay a fine.
During the programs first six days, 33 minor offenders signed up for seaweed removal duty. By the following week, another 40 volunteered to shovel the unwanted heaps of sargsssum from Playa del Carmen beaches, reported Lourdes Várguez Ocampo, director of the Federal Zone Terrestrial Maritime (Zofemat) in Solidaridad.
The program, which does not have an official name, is an agreement made with civic judges.
“For several weeks we had been talking with civic judges and this measure which was proposed so that they (offenders) do work for the community instead of paying with other types of sanctions. It has been a unilateral decision,” she said.
To date, those charged with minor administrative offences who have volunteered to clear seaweed have helped remove washed up sargassum from Punta Esmeralda, El Recodo, Caribe and Playa Mamitas.