Compared to other northern Caribbean islands, Montserrat has not been very heavily impacted by sargassum. Fortunately, most of the sargassum influxes occur along the windward coast which is less populated and utilised. Along this exposed coast, there have been some reports of impacts mainly to coastal residents. Carrs Bay, Woodlands Bay, Marguerita Bay and Lime Kiln Beach are some of the sites most heavily impacted during high influx events.

Country / Region

Ongoing efforts

Montserrat 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 Montserrat, primarily to “build resilience to threats from influxes of sargassum seaweed, turning the potential threats where possible into adaptive opportunities for sustainable development.”

While sargassum inundations have impacted the northeastern coast, management continues to be ad hoc and reactive in Montserrat for a number of reasons. These include: low recreation and tourism importance, rather inaccessible locations of the inundations, and reliance on the natural removal of the seaweed during the months where ground swells are prevalent. There is also no established management plan or formal sargassum task force to deal with sargassum influxes.

Although there is no authority responsible for coordinating sargassum removal, The Department of Environment (DoE) and the Montserrat Tourism Division have been involved in some clean-up efforts. On a smaller scale, residents of some impacted communities, civil society groups, coastal businesses and fisherfolk organisations, have conducted independent clean-ups.

Containment, collection and disposal

The Government of Montserrat has not made many investments between 2011 and 2021 to directly address the impacts of sargassum inundations on Montserrat’s beaches. Sargassum is usually removed from the shorelines by beach maintenance companies, who are responsible for the general upkeep of beaches. Even though the DoE does not allocate funds for the removal of sargassum, occasionally project funds may be requested to be allocated for a clean-up, directly tied to a project (e.g., related to bird or turtle habitat). As of January 2022, the Montserrat Tourism Division has issued beach maintenance contracts for clean-ups on a few designated beaches including Carrs Bay, Woodlands Beach, Lime Kiln Beach, Isles Bay and Old Road Bay.

Concerned residents, fisherfolk, and NGOs have banded together to clear and remove sargassum from affected beaches using manual labour and heavy equipment.

Regulations and legal instruments

There have not yet been any management plans developed to deal with the sargassum influxes, perhaps due to insufficient information on sargassum influxes to support decision making and strategy development. There is also no designated authority to manage sargassum influxes.

Monitoring, modeling and early warnings systems

Due to sea and shore bird monitoring activities, the DoE conducts beach monitoring on a few designated beaches. This is mostly on the northern and western coasts, where there is significant use by locals, fisherfolk, and tourism-based enterprises. Sargassum has heavily impacted the eastern coast, which is less frequently monitored.  There is currently no standardized monitoring protocol or proper time series available. However, there is possible DoE interest in sargassum monitoring in the near future. Montserrat has some capacity for UAS with geospatial analysis and exploratory sargassum video drone flights have been made.

Socioeconomic and environmental impacts

Montserrat, like other Eastern Caribbean states, experience sargassum inundations on the windward coast. However, due to geographic location, influx events are not as frequent as Eastern Caribbean Island States lower down in the island chain. Fortunately, most of Montserrat’s tourism assets and fish landing sites are located on the western coast which have not experienced mass strandings of sargassum. Coastal dwellers, however, were more impacted. For instance, residents of Marguerita Bay on the east coast have complained about strong odors, as prevailing winds carry the smell from the decomposing sargassum to the nearby community. The volumes of sargassum at Marguerita Bay have generally been high and manual cleaning is  difficult and ineffective without significant manpower. Due to scarcity or resources and equipment, sargassum is left on the beach for months to dry out, rot, and get buried in the sand.

Potential uses

There have been reports of persons in Montserrat using sargassum as fertilizer. Other potential uses or applications of sargassum have not been explored by individuals, companies, or the Government of Montserrat.


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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