Since 2011, the Mexican Caribbean has periodically received atypical influxes of floating Sargassum. In 2015 and 2018 major events were experienced along the coasts of the Quintana Roo State. In 2018 Sargassum reached volumes of up to 2 m-3 per linear meter of beach and this led to a declaration of emergency from the State. These atypical massive influxes have entailed severe impacts on coastal and marine ecosystems and their ecosystem services (e.g., beach erosion, water pollution, decreasing tourism, death of seagrasses, loss of corals, etc.). In Mexico, most governmental efforts have focused on cleaning the beaches of tourist importance, although this is starting to change. There have been several initiatives to start harvesting Sargassum at sea and using it as a resource. This would prevent most of the negative impacts associated with the Sargassum decomposing process that starts at shallow water and on the beach. It is a goal for the country to stop managing Sargassum as a problem and start managing it as a national resource.

Country / Region

Ongoing efforts

In 2019, the Secretaría de Marina (SEMAR) took charge of the national strategy to address the Sargassum phenomenon on the Mexican coasts, focusing on contention and harvest on-sea strategies. In the same year, the Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología (CONACYT) published, is collaboration with various federal and local government institutions, and specialists and experts in different disciplines and areas of knowledge, an Agenda of science, technology and innovation for addressing, adapting and mitigating massive influxes of Sargassum to Mexican coasts: This Agenda defines nine strategic lines of action, through which comprehensive management of the phenomenon is sought.

Containment, collection and disposal

Sargassum can be temporarily contained at sea, before it can reach the beaches, through the installation of barriers. Besides the SEMAR, there are several private companies that have developed Sargassum barriers in Mexico (e.g., GOIMAR, Dakatso, Ocean Solutions México, Manufacturas Industriales DP, Sargazo Solutions, DESMI).

The harvest of Sargassum at sea is conducted by vessels, Sargassum trawlers, or small boats. Sargassum trawlers have been developed by SEMAR and they currently have a processing capacity of ~20 tons per day. Private companies in Mexico that also harvest Sargassum at sea include Preyco, Tecno Productos GAB, GOIMAR, Dakatso, DESMI, among others.

Once the Sargassum strands on a beach it is collected with wheelbarrows and rakes by hotels, municipalities, and other sectors’ brigades (e.g., restaurant or beach club owners). In months of great influxes, mechanical machinery, developed by private companies (e.g., Dakatso, Kaanaab, etc.), is used.

Sargassum collected at sea and land is transported to collection points. From these collection points, the Sargassum is transported to final disposal sites via tow vehicles. The infrastructure of these final disposal must be adequate to prevent Sargassum leachates from reaching the region’s aquifers.

Regulations and legal instruments

In Mexico, the “Lineamientos Técnicos y de Gestión para la Atención de la Contingencia ocasionada por sargazo en el Caribe Mexicano y el Golfo de México” of the Secretaría de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (SEMARNAT) is the only document available of its kind, regarding Sargassum regulations.

These guidelines, which are not compulsory, establish the technical specifications for sea harvest, containment, removal on beaches, biomass pretreatments, final disposal, and quantification of Sargassum for monitoring purposes (SEMARNAT, 2021).

Monitoring, modeling and early warnings systems

Coordination of multisectoral efforts is needed to integrate a national monitoring, modeling, and early warning system with multisectoral applications and with an inherent effect on containment and harvest actions and strategies. Despite existing technical limitations, there are several ongoing initiatives and projects in Mexico that contribute to the remote and in situ Sargassum monitoring:

The Comisión Nacional para el Conocimiento y Uso de la Biodiversidad (CONABIO) has developed SIMAR, an interactive platform that includes in situ data, climate models, satellite products and other geospatial information. It is equipped with the Early Warning System of Sargassum (SATsum), which allows the visualization of the floating Sargassum with a daily resolution of 1 km.


The Red de Monitoreo del Sargazo Cancún is an online tool to inform and alert the general public about influxes of Sargassum to the beaches of Quintana Roo.


The Observatorio Ciudadano del Sargazo a web page with information for tourists that produces weekly reports of the presence of Sargassum on the main beaches.

SEMAR, in collaboration with Secretaría del Medio Ambiente (SEMA) in Quintana Roo, publish a “traffic light” representing the abundance of Sargassum in main beaches of the region


The Sistema de Monitoreo de Sargazo Recolectado (SIMSAR) developed by SEMARNAT, the Instituto Nacional de Ecología y Cambio Climático (INECC) and SEMAR, aims to systematize information on the volumes of Sargassum that arrive to the coasts and are registered by private and public sectors. These data will be soon available to the public for research and decision-making purposes.


Socioeconomic and environmental impacts

Accumulation of massive quantities of sargassum can result in a build-up of decaying material in both coastal waters and beaches. Decayed algae on the beaches can affect human health due to the release of toxic gases such as methane and hydrogen sulfide. In near-shore waters, sargassum accumulation causes high loads of organic material and increased turbidity that can lead to water eutrophication, resulting in the death of several marine organisms, including coral reefs and seagrass. Eutrophication can also result in high amounts of harmful bacteria for both human and many marine organisms. The sargassum influxes may also result in the contamination of the water aquifer due to leachates of the decaying algae including arsenic and other heavy metals and toxic compounds. Sargassum massive influxes greatly impact tourism due to the loss of the beach scenic component. In addition to the economic impact due to the loss of tourism, the harvest and containment efforts are costly for the government.

Potential uses

The main limitations for the consolidation of Sargassum-based industries and the development of chains of value, include:

  • The chemical characterization of the macroalgae, which reveals high content of heavy metals such as arsenic
  • The need to have pre-processing techniques (drying, pressing, desalination, grinding, etc.) that facilitate conservation and storage for a permanent industrial supply.

In Mexico, the products with higher Technology Readiness Level (TRL), where commercialization already exists, are bioestimulantes and biofertilizers, fucoidan and alginates, materials of bioconstruction (i.e., concrete and bricks), and paper. Companies such as Alquimar, Dianco, Dakatso, C-combinator, BlueGreen, Renovare, Abaplas, Energryn, commercialize some of these products. Several research groups are currently exploring other potential uses such as the generation of biofuels.


CONACYT. 2019. Agenda de Ciencia, Tecnología e Innovación para la Atención, Adaptación y Mitigación del arribo de sargazo pelágico a México. Mexican Government Document. 32 pp.

Desrochers, A., Cox, S-A., Oxenford, H.A., & van Tussenbroek, B. 2020. Sargassum uses guide: A resource for Caribbean researchers, entrepreneurs, and policy makers. Centre for Resource Management and Environmental Studies (CERMES), University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus. Bridgetown, Barbados. 159 pp.

Rodríguez-Martínez, R.E., Medina-Valmaseda, A.E., Blanchon, P., Monroy-Velázquez, L.V., Almazán-Becerril, A., Delgado-Pech, B., et al. 2019. Faunal mortality associated with massive beaching and decomposition of pelagic Sargassum. Marine pollution bulletin. 146: 201-205.

Rodríguez-Martínez, R.E., van Tussenbroek, B., & Jordán-Dahlgren, E. 2016. Afluencia masiva de sargazo pelágico a la costa del Caribe Mexicano (2014–2015). In: Florecimientos Algales Nocivos en México. CICESE, Ensenada.

Rosellón-Druker, J., Calixto-Pérez, E., Escobar-Briones, E., González-Cano, J., Masiá-Nebot, L., & Córdova-Tapia. 2022. State of the art: Local projects, studies, and initiatives to address atypical influxes of pelagic Sargassum in the Mexican Caribbean coasts. Manuscript in review.

SEMAR. 2021. La Secretaría de Marina-Armada de México mantiene acciones para la contención del fenómeno atípico del sargazo en el Estado de Quintana Roo. Online at: Accessed: 10/10/2021.

SEMARNAT. 2021. Lineamientos Técnicos y de Gestión para la Atención de la Contingencia Ocasionada por Sargazo en el Caribe Mexicano y el Golfo de México. Mexican Government. 50 pp.

Sosa-Olivier, J.A., Canepa, J.R., Zarate, D.G., Díaz, A.G., Jaramillo, D.A., García, H.K., & López, B.E., 2022. Bioenergetic valorization of Sargassum fluitans in the Mexican Caribbean: The determination of the calorific value and washing mechanism. AIMS Energy. 10(1): 45-63.

van Tussenbroek, B.I., Arana, H.A.H., Rodríguez-Martínez, R.E., Espinoza-Avalos, J., Canizales-Flores, H.M., González-Godoy, C.E., Barba-Santos, M.G., Vega-Zepeda, A., & Collado-Vides, L. 2017. Severe impacts of brown tides caused by Sargassum spp. on near-shore Caribbean seagrass communities. Marine pollution bulletin. 122(1-2): 272-281.

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