TCI News

DECR looks to educate on Sargassum Seaweed Accumulation on TCI’s coastline

#Providenciales, July 25, 2018 – Turks and Caicos – The Turks and Caicos Islands Government acknowledge that the current quantities of sargassum that have washed ashore, may pose a frustration to residents and visitors to Grand Turk’s eastern shore, and would like to assure all parties that we seek to act in the best interests of residents, valued visitors and our environment.

Sargassum is an important seaweed found throughout the world’s oceans. In fact, the Sargasso Sea is named after the concentration of this alga in its waters. Periodically, sargassum washes up on beaches which is a natural process that can provide important structure and nutrients to these areas. While floating around, sargassum provides an important habitat for a number of organisms, particularly giving shelter to juveniles during their vulnerable stages, and this can include sea turtles as well as fish.

In recent years, the reported incidents of large rafts of sargassum washed up on beaches in the region seems to be on the rise, and although this may also be on the increase in the TCI, we do not currently have the data to support this.

Sargassum poses no threat to humans and decaying mounds of the material may create eyesores and offensive odours, the wrack line stabilizes beaches as it ‘catches’ wind-blown sand, preventing erosion and stabilizing dunes.  The management of these issues therefore requires careful consideration of the enjoyment of the shoreline and the environment.

The DECR would like to caution persons that bagging the material and leaving bags on shoreline is a violation of the Coast Protection Ordinance (Ordinance 3 of 1988) and National Parks Ordinance (Ordinance 11 of 1975), Regulation 3 (1):

The following are prohibited within all national parks –

  1. The taking of any animal or plant by any method on land or at sea, except to the extent permitted in any fishing zone;
  2. The dumping of refuse, abandoned vehicles, toxic or other wastes, bilges, oil and other petroleum products, pesticides and other items harmful to animals or plants, or unsightly items.

The use of heavy machinery including raking tractors and trucks compromise the stability of the shoreline, therefore persons seeking to remove large amounts of material from the eastern shoreline of Grand Turk should contact our office at 338-3172 or to seek further guidance to coordinate removal efforts. In areas where quantities of sargassum are too large to be buried in the sand, it should be transported to the dump for waste disposal.


Release: TCIG



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