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More Bad Sargassum News

June 30
13:21 2019

Wednesday, 26 June 2019

Prevailing currents and wind direction are expected to send a “Sargasso stain” larger than 340 miles in diameter to the coasts in Quintana Roo, Mexico sometime next week, and it is expected to affect mainly the central and southern region of the state between Tulum and Xcalak, which borders the Belizean coastline of San Pedro. This is according to the Monitoring Network, a citizen observatory that uses information from institutions, including the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), to inform, prevent and alert of the arrival of sargassum to the Mexican coasts along the Caribbean.

The network informed that over the past two weeks, a significant accumulation of sargassum has been concentrated west of Jamaica and that on Monday, it was about 620 miles east of the coasts of Quintana Roo.

The inundation was expected long before it was spotted, however, and local and regional authorities have been looking for solutions to deal with the algae invasion that poses a threat to tourism. Their efforts so far, of using human resources and heavy-duty equipment to clear away the tens of thousands of tons of rotting seaweed have fallen far short of the hand that Mother Nature has dealt because the smelly algae just keeps on washing ashore.

Relevant parties met in San Pedro two Fridays ago with Mexican businessman, Omar Vasquez Sanchez, to discuss the prospects of using Sargassum to build houses that is made from a mix of the dried algae and cement.

Vasquez, who currently lives in Quintana Roo, had built a house entirely from Sargassum bricks using specialized equipment. If the idea can be converted to action, it would not only be a positive solution to the Sargassum problems along San Pedro’s coastline, but can mean job opportunities for masons, while creating shelters that can withstand up to a category 3 hurricane for low-income families.

Vasquez assured the municipal representatives from San Pedro that tests done at their plant in Mexico have shown that the sargassum bricks can withstand a storm of this strength. He added that a house made of sargassum would not require much maintenance, and that given the humidity and climate of this region, these houses can last over 100 years.

But while the plan sounds good in theory, Councilor with responsibility for the Environment in San Pedro, Gary Greif , told the Reporter last week that several steps would have to be taken, such as getting approval from the San Pedro and Central Building Authority, as well as a mechanism to ensure that whatever business venture can be derived from the project would benefit the labour force from the island.

Vasquez, whose idea has not been well-received in Mexico, informed that his company has 100,000 bricks, which can build about 50 houses for starters. He has also travelled to other countries in the region to present his project idea.

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