Guadeloupe expects a "dark year" in terms of Sargassum strandings

Sargassum algae represent a scourge for the economy, a threat to biodiversity and a nightmare for residents of invaded beaches.

RFI/Agnes Rougier

Text by: RFI Follow

2 mins

Guadeloupe indicated on Monday February 6 that it feared "a dark year" concerning the groundings of sargassum, a brown algae invading the coasts of the Caribbean and whose quantity has reached a record level offshore.


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We are expecting a dark year,

" Sylvie Gustave Dit Duflo, vice-president of the Guadeloupe region in charge of environmental issues, told AFP.

According to the University of South Florida (USF) monthly bulletin, the amount of sargassum in the Atlantic Ocean doubled from December to January, setting a "


" at 8.7 million tons.

After they wash up on the shores, these algae release rotting nauseous and toxic fumes, prohibiting access to large stretches of the coast.

Sargassum mats also suffocate biodiversity, hamper navigation and harm tourism.

The previous record dates back to 2018, with 6.5 million tons, according to the USF.

That year, the massive sargassum groundings had many consequences on the economic life of the affected areas.

Faced with this scourge, the government adopted a second Sargassum plan in March 2022, endowed with 36 million euros over four years.

The Overseas Ministry announced on Monday that it had "

brought together the actors of the Sargassum plan

" to see the progress of the "

fight against this calamity


A Martinican beach invaded by sargassum.

RFI/Agnes Rougier

The question of the storage of these algae

At the end of January, the region, the department, the chamber of commerce and industry and the State ratified the principle of a public interest group, which must be financed by the Sargassum plan.


For the time being, it is the municipalities that manage groundings, but the intensification of the phenomenon and the small means of these municipalities do not allow good management

", specified Sylvie Gustave Dit Duflo.

Especially since expensive equipment will be tested, in particular dams intended to avoid strandings on the beaches and to facilitate collection at sea.

There is also the question of the recovery of algae, and beforehand, of their storage, because, according to the elected official, the spreading land is saturated.

A study by the Geological and Mining Research Office pointed to the “

direct impact

” of the storage of Sargassum, “

via the presence of arsenic and the salinization of water


The causes of the proliferation of Sargassum over the past dozen years have not been established with certainty and continue to be the subject of studies.


Also to listen: Sargassum in Martinique, the seaweed that rots life





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