Anguilla has been impacted by sargassum both on the mainland and its offshore cays. Although Anguilla has not been as severely impacted as some southern islands to date, influxes have resulted in increasingly negative ecological and socio-economic impacts.  For instance biodiversity loss in coastal and marine ecosystems; health impacts associated with emissions of hydrogen sulphide and ammonia; and economic and livelihood impacts in the tourism, fisheries and marine transport sectors. Savannah Bay, Mimi Bay, Sandy Hill Bay, Long Salt Bay and Shoal Bay East are some of the locations most heavily impacted by sargassum influxes.

Country / Region

Ongoing efforts

Anguilla is one of three countries participating in the Sustainable Sargassum Management in Anguilla, British Virgin Islands and Montserrat project led by the Caribbean Natural Resources Institute (CANARI). The project aims to enhance the knowledge, institutional frameworks, experience and commitment of  coastal and marine resource managers and users in Anguilla, BVI and Montserrat to manage the ecological and socio-economic risks from sargassum influxes. Under the project, a 2023 Draft Sargassum Adaptive Management Strategy (SAMS) was developed for Anguilla, primarily to “build resilience to threats from influxes of sargassum seaweed, turning the potential threats where possible into adaptive opportunities for sustainable development.”

In 2015, The Department of Environment (formerly known as the Environment Unit-Department of Natural Resources) published a draft sargassum management strategy, which outlines the process and methods for managing sargassum clean-up campaigns. Also in 2015, the Government of Anguilla established a Sargassum Taskforce to address the significant influxes of sargassum on Anguilla’s beaches and nearshore regions. The Taskforce, led by the Department of Natural Resources, is comprised of representatives from the Department of Infrastructure, Department of Health Protection (Environmental Health Unit) and the Department of Lands and Survey.

Containment, collection and disposal

Once sargassum has landed, beach-side hotels and businesses, with vested interests in a maintaining the beauty of their properties, committed community members and local authorities remove sargassum from beaches either by manual labour or heavy equipment.

Sargassum is usually removed manually using rakes during routine beach clean-up activities. Manual removal, however, may not be feasible when sargassum influxes are exceptionally high on heavily used beaches. During these circumstances and under the supervision of the Sargassum Taskforce,  hoteliers, beach-side businesses and community groups use heavy equipment to remove mass strandings of sargassum.

Under the Draft Sargassum Management Strategy, two sites (Sandy Hill and Corito Landfill) are designated for drying and decomposition of sargassum following beach clean-ups. The Department of Natural Resources is also interested in exploring potential opportunities for sargassum use, including using sargassum to support natural accretion of beaches and sand dunes.

Regulations and legal instruments

As it relates to policy and planning, the 2015 Draft Sargassum Management Strategy is the main instrument which guides sargassum management in Anguilla, particularly as it relates to sargassum removal. The Sargassum Taskforce, led by The Department of Environment operates in ad hoc manner, being called to action whenever permission has been granted to any person, business or government organization to mechanically remove sargassum from any beach on Anguilla. This oversight not only ensures that sargassum is properly disposed of and that environmental harm and degradation are kept to a minimal, but it also ensures that the removal of sargassum is not being used an opportunity for sandmining.

Monitoring, modeling and early warnings systems

Anguilla utilizes forecasts derived from University of South Florida’s Outlook of Sargassum and reports are sent to the GIS Unit of the Department of Physical Planning. Since February 2018, this tool has been periodically updated to offer an overall perspective of the present bloom situation and potential future blooms for the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico. The Department of Planning shares information with the Department of Natural Resources to give a heads-up on potential sargassum season activity.

The Department of Natural Resources has also been conducting bi-monthly sargassum monitoring activities on ten of the most heavily impacted beaches on Anguilla. These bi-monthly monitoring and data analysis activities, combined with forecasting by the University of South Florida, allows for the Department of Natural Resources to conduct comprehensive assessment of trends over time and forecasting of potential Government of Anguilla resources (namely, financial) that may be required to address sargassum inundations in any given year.

Socioeconomic and environmental impacts

Sargassum inundations, mostly occuring along the southern and northeastern coastlines of Anguilla have been impacting the wellbeing of coastal community dwellers, fisheries and tourism sectors, as well as sensitive marine life.

Locals traditionally use the beaches for beach walking, swimming, and picnicking. However much of these recreational activities have been disrupted by sargassum accumulations along the beaches and nearshore regions. Furthermore, there have been reports of community members being affected by the strong smell of decomposing sargassum, especially when the volume of sargassum on the beach is high. Tourism assets located on the southern and northeastern coastlines are also vulnerable to sargassum influxes, with reports of disrupted swimming and snorkeling activities.  Sargassum has been quite the bother to fisherfolk. The seaweed accumulated in the nearshore waters surrounds and impacts boats and engines as they attempt to the leave the bay. The seaweed also gets caught in seine nets used to catch bait fish in the nearshore. Sea turtles are affected by the extreme depth of sargassum accumulation which prevent nesting activity as well as hatchlings’ ability to successfully crawl to the ocean following nest emergence.

Potential uses

There have been reports of persons in Anguilla using sargassum as fertilizer, especially for coconut trees as it does not require any additional washing to remove excess salt. Other potential uses or applications of sargassum have not been explored by individuals, companies, or the Government of Anguilla.


Written by R. Speede

CERMES and CANARI. 2023. Draft Anguilla Sargassum Adaptive Management Strategy. Volume 2: Action Appendices. University of the West Indies (UWI) Centre for Resource Management and Environmental Studies (CERMES), Barbados.

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