Some islands in the Eastern Caribbean were told to brace for a moderate to severe influx of Sargassum seaweed in the coming months
This is according to the March 2021 Sargassum Sub-Regional Outlook Bulletin published by the UWI Centre for Resource Management and Environment Studies, Cave Hill, Barbados.
According to the report, the level of sargassum arriving has increased considerably as there is six per cent more that is now visible in the Atlantic than this time last year.
The report also said that considerable cloud cover could be hiding even more, but probably still below 2018 levels, the worst year to date.
In its current outlook for March to May, Northern islands are set to receive moderate influxes from late March to April, with little to nothing in May.
Middle islands will continue to experience moderate influxes over the next three months similar to last year without the major peak seen in May.
After a light two months, the southern islands are expected to receive severe influxes of sargassum peaks over the next three months.
The bulletin notes there are implications for the tourism sector. Stakeholders in the tourism industry can expect more-or-less continuous mild to moderate sargassum influxes over the next few months in the middle and northern islands. However, the tourism industry in the southern islands could be hard hit with continued mass influxes.
There are also implications for the fisheries sector.
Fisherfolk in the southern islands can expect disruption at windward landing sites due to mass influxes making it difficult to access boats and moorings.
Beaches and shore-side markets will likely require significant cleanup efforts to prevent problems with trapped sargassum rotting.
Offshore vessels particularly in the southern area should be cautious when traveling at night to avoid becoming trapped in large sargassum mats.