Saint Kitts and Nevis

Saint Kitts and Nevis, 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. Frigate Bay, Dieppe Bay, Lynches Bay and Indian Castle are some of the coastal communities greatly affected by inundations.

Country / Region

Ongoing efforts

Saint Kitts and Nevis deploys both a centralised national response to sargassum events, as well as local community responses. At the national level, a Draft Sargassum Adaptive Management Strategy (SAMS) was developed for the Department of Marine Resources (DMR) under the Climate Change Adaptation in the Eastern Caribbean Fisheries Sector (CC4FISH) Project in 2021. The purpose of the SAMS is to assist the country to be more resilient to threats from influxes of sargassum seaweed, turning the potential threats where possible into adaptive opportunities for sustainable development. The SAMS builds upon and incorporates much of the 2017 Plan for The Management of the Accumulations of Sargassum on the Coastal and Marine Ecosystem of St.Kitts and Nevis. At the local level, residents, fishers, individual resorts and non-governmental organisations have organised independent clean-ups.

In February 2022, Saint Kitts and Nevis became one of five beneficiaries of sargassum removal equipment valued at US$2 million, from the Government of Japan by way of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) – under “The Project for Improving National Sargassum Management Capacities in the Caribbean.” It will aid in Saint Kitts and Nevis’ efforts towards finding avenues for industry in the face of this climate-linked crisis.

Containment, collection and disposal

As large-scale sargassum strandings become a recurring stressor, local authorities, coastal dwellers, fisherfolk, hoteliers and civil society continue to make their best attempts to collect and dispose of the seaweed. Hotels in Saint Kitts and Nevis have been covering the costs of clean-ups for the beaches associated with their properties and used both manual and mechanised methods to maintain the aesthetics of the beaches. It was reported that The Marriott Hotel has conducted daily clean-ups during heavy influx periods using an excavator and truck. The Hotel has also investigated the use of a modified oil-containment boom to contain and halt influxes before they become stranded on the beaches and the nearshore.

Impacted fisherfolk and coastal dwellers engage in manual labor; collecting, drying and burning the sargassum. Influxes are negatively impacting sea turtle nesting activities which prompted the response of a local NGO to manually clear the  seaweed from nesting beaches. Saint Kitts and Nevis is also expected to receive more equipment such as floating boom barriers, aquatic conveyors, work boats, machine surface beach rakes, tractors, and dump trucks through “The Project for Improving National Sargassum Management Capacities in the Caribbean”.

Regulations and legal instruments

As it relates to policy and planning, the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Marine Resources is the lead agency in sargassum management in St. Kitts and Nevis.

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, Saint Kitts and Nevis uses this bulletin to assist in preparing for possible sargassum inundations.

Socioeconomic and environmental impacts

Saint Kitts and Nevis, like other Eastern Caribbean states, experience sargassum inundations on the windward coast – that is, the east coast. Hotels, resorts, bars, restaurants and watersporting activities located along the east and south-east coast have been impacted due to the large accumulations of sargassum on the beach and in the nearshore. Labeled an “unwelcomed visitor” sargassum influxes has resulted in spoiled aesthetics, unpleasant odours, lack of beach access, limited swimming and increased cost for consistent removal. Sargassum floating at sea along with the unpleasant smell as the seaweed decomposes act as deterrents for tourists visiting the beach. There have been reports of business disruptions and loss of income for beach vendors owing to reduced recreational activity.

Sargassum inundations have been making it difficult and in cases impossible for fishers to launch their vessels. Some fishers are forced to stay ashore and lose fishing days, to avoid sargassum being clogged around their motors. While at sea fishers reported increased travel time to fishing grounds as navigation around sargassum rafts was difficult. Often, fishers had to stop to clear the propellers. Entangled fishing lines have been making it difficult to catch pelagic fish such as dolphinfish and wahoo. Despite this, there has been an increase in landed juvenile dolphinfish. Spear-fishers and the lobster fishers have also been affected due to the sedimentation of decomposed sargassum in nearshore areas causing them to go farther out to fish. There have also been reports of lost fish traps.

Sargassum influxes have been diminishing the quality of the natural amenities enjoyed by coastal communities. Beaches and nearshore regions under siege by sargassum have impeded beach access and ruined aesthetics. Additionally, coastal dwellers have to endure the odor of decomposing sargassum which reportedly could be smelt from around two miles away from the coastline.

Beach erosion has been reported at Frigate Bay. The influxes has affected the turtle nesting beaches, making it difficult for turtles to maneuver. There have been occurrences of drowned turtles since the sargassum mats make it difficult to surface.

Potential uses

Apart from the common application of rinsed sargassum as compost or fertiliser, as seen in other Caribbean states, there are no novel uses of sargassum reported in Saint Kitts and Nevis.


Written by R. Speede

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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