GRENADA AND CARRIACOU

Grenada and Carriacou, like the rest of the Caribbean region, first experienced extraordinary volumes of sargassum within their nearshore waters and washed up on their beaches in 2011. Since then, influxes have been arriving annually, at varying intensities, impacting critical industries (namely tourism and fishing) as well as the coastal environment. Grenville, Soubise, Telescope (Big Bay and South), Conference Bay, Petit Baeceve, and Woburn are some of the coastal communities greatly affected by inundations.

Country / Region

Ongoing efforts

Grenada is one of five countries participating in the ‘SargAdapt Project’ (full title: Adapting to a new reality: Managing responses to influxes of sargassum seaweed in the Eastern Caribbean as ecosystem hazards and opportunities), led by the Centre for Resource Management and Environmental Studies (CERMES) at the University of the West Indies (UWI) Cave Hill Campus in Barbados. The project aims to reduce the impacts of and improve adaptation to sargassum influxes in the Eastern Caribbean.

Grenada deploys both a centralised national response to sargassum events, as well as local community responses. At the national level, a Sargassum Adaptive Management Strategy (SAMS) as well as a Sargassum Management Plan have been drafted for Grenada. The Sargassum Management Committee, led by the National Disaster Management Agency (NaDMA) and Environment Division, also is in place, and a Sargassum Task Force has been created, but is not yet in effect.

The Ministry of Climate Resilience – associated with Sargassum Task Force, is the lead agency as it relates to sargassum policy and planning in Grenada.

Containment, collection and disposal

Grenada, like many Eastern Caribbean Island States, mainly collects and disposes of sargassum using heavy machinery and trucks. Localised community clean-up efforts are less common.

Regulations and legal instruments

As it relates to policy and planning, the Ministry of Climate Resilience which is associated with the Sargassum Task Force is the lead agency in sargassum management in Grenada.

Monitoring, modeling and early warnings systems

CERMES has been producing a forecast bulletin called the Sargassum Subregional Outlook Bulletin which provides the region with a prediction of the magnitude of sargassum influx events. Implications of the events on the tourism and fisheries sectors as well as the environment are provided. Like other Caribbean states, Grenada uses this bulletin to assist in preparing for possible sargassum inundations.

Socioeconomic and environmental impacts

Grenada, like other Eastern Caribbean states experience sargassum inundation on the windward coast – that is, the island’s east coast. Grenada’s beach tourism product, therefore, remains largely unaffected by sargassum because the primary tourist areas are located along the island’s south coast.

There are a few fish landing sites located on the windward coast of Grenada and they are exposed to sargassum influxes. Fisherfolk have reported numerous impacts due to exposure. These include a reduction in catches, namely fluctuations in dolphinfish catches since 2014, damage to fishing equipment and vessels due to entanglement and corrosion from hydrogen sulphide, as well as reduction in time at sea – due to extended time used in repairing equipment, or loss in fuel from navigating around seaweed.

Extensive human health impacts were reported by coastal residents in affected areas, such as respiratory issues from hydrogen sulphide exposure from decomposing sargassum, skin irritation and cuts. Anti-malarial drains also became blocked during some sargassum inundation events posing a potential public health risk. All these impacts have caused some affected coastal residents to migrate elsewhere on the island.

Various ecosystems around the island are exposed to sargassum influxes and many of them have been impacted. Sargassum influxes result in low-oxygen levels in the sea as well as other environmentally stressful conditions which have been reported to cause the loss of corals, fishes, seagrass beds, as well as the death of organisms such as sea urchins were reported. Prominent beach erosion at some affected locations by the sargassum itself advancing onshore, or from the improper removal of sargassum by heavy machinery were also reported.

Potential uses

Grenadians have been encouraged to use rinsed sargassum as fertiliser, compost, or potting material.

Sources

Written by J. Irvine

Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism, and Japanese International Cooperation Agency. 2019. “Fact-Finding Survey Regarding the Influx and Impacts of Sargassum Seaweed in the Caribbean Region.” Draft report. Belize: CRFM-JICA.

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