The spread of Sargassum has affected numerous countries in the region where tourism is a primary industry. In the margins of the ongoing CARICOM meetings, we got an update on how the beaches of the Caribbean are being impacted by the seaweed that is washing up on the beaches. C.R.F.Mís Executive Director, Milton Haughton, told us that the phenomenon has been impacting the Eastern Caribbean since 2011 and continues to bloom in unprecedented quantities in recent years distressing coastal communities, tourism and the fisheries industries. Haughton says that there is massive change taking place in the dynamics of the marine ecosystem.
Milton Haughton, Executive Director, Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism
ďThe challenge for us is okay this is all happening and we are getting these blooms and they are causing all this disruption with fisheries and we are seeing new species. We are not seeing some species that we are used to seeing such as the flying fish; their numbers have declined significantly. But we are catching large numbers of dolphin fish, but unfortunately it is juvenile dolphin fishes that are associated with the sargassum. So thatís a major concern for us.† Based on the scientific information that we have, there are a number of factors that are contributing to this: the warming waters, the increased nutrients in the water coming from various sources. One of the main sources seems to be upwelling of nutrients with water off the coast of Africa, but also discharges from the large river systems in South America, Central America that is all going into the ocean and increasing the nutrient.Ē