Puerto Morelos, Quintana Roo May 10th, 2019.- While the Federal Government figures out a course of action and assigns resources to remove sargassum from the shores of Quintana Roo, a group of scientists from the Ocean and Limnological Sciences Institute at Mexico’s National Autonomous University (UNAM), hotel owners and authorities from the Reefs of Puerto Morelos National Park have activated a protocol to place barriers and collect sargassum in the open sea. The sargassum will then be compacted and reused.
Hotel groups and coastal authorities aim to give value to a plant that now poses a threat to the tourism industry and create a business model for the development of a bio-industry with headquarters in the region.
Sargassum industrialization businesses will operate at the site and build walls with compressed sargassum, as well as water heaters, plates, vases, and even railway tiles for the Mexican government’s Maya Train project, in cooperation with businessmen from Guadalajara.
In a press conference, Carlos Gosselin, who presides the so-called “Puerto Morelos Protocol” indicated that the strategy for the handling of what he calls “sea gold,” involves around 15 hotels through 28 kilometers of shoreline who have decided to address the environmental contingency head-on.
Last year, around 847.5 million cubic feet of sargassum washed up on the shores of the Mexican Caribbean, which is the equivalent of filling 300 Olympic-size swimming pools. Out of said volume, 26.4 million cubic feet of sargassum washed up on Puerto Morelos.
“It is expected that the volumes of sargassum this year will be similar or even larger than last year’s,” stated Gosselin, in company of investigators Brigitte Van Tussembroeke and Eric Jordan, from the Ocean and Limnological Sciences Institute; Roberto Cintrón, chairman of the Cancun Hotels and Puerto Morelos Association; Maricarmen García, director of the Reefs National Park, and experts in sargassum industrialization.
In view of this grim outlook, the community of Puerto Morelos has been working to find solutions at the local level through a comprehensive proposal that combines the use of both artisanal and industrial barriers to stop sargassum from reaching the touristic beaches, as well as vessels to pick up the macroalgae at sea and bring it to land.
Private financing is no substitute for public resources
Gosselin pointed out that there were several solutions in place for the handling of the algae. “We may not have money for our protocol, but we do have ships and barriers financed by hotel owners,” he stated. Said instruments will be put at the disposal of the government and city councils as a model to replicate the measures at a larger scale.
In this respect, Roberto Cintrón stressed that the work undertaken by the community of Puerto Morelos and local hotel owners did not relieve the federal government of its responsibility to allocate public resources for the handling of sargassum.
“Sargassum is now an international concern. It directly jeopardizes the country’s economy and should be considered a federal issue. Us hotel owners are desperately asking for a final solution and we have pushed forward some proposals to solve the problem with federal resources collected through federal zone payments and sanitation rights.
The hotel leader backed the President’s decision to incorporate the Ministry of the Navy (SEMAR) to address the issue and considered that Navy elements had the capacity and discipline to collect the sargassum.
Source: El Universal