Our Environment

Opposing Viewpoints: Dealing with Sargassum

Although the onslaught of the seaweed in 2014 and 2015 has subsided, business owners want to install a net system in an attempt to prevent it from reaching beaches

How to deal with sargassum seaweed in Playa del Carmen, has been a hot topic over the last couple of years. Business owners and investors are planning to invest 600,000 pesos into a private initiative that would put a net in the federal marine zone, which, they claim, would stop the passage of seaweed. Environmental leaders and organizations warn that the installation of a net that would stop the arrival of seaweed on the coasts of Playa del Carmen is not viable as it would affect the egg-laying habits of the sea turtle.

During the first stage of placement, the net and buoy would be located near Calle 8 on the Avenida Constituyentes pier. The resources would be paid for by the business sector, according to Pablo Alcocer Góngora, president of the local delegation of the National Chamber of Commerce (Canaco Servytur).

“It is important to take into account the opinion of fishermen, and come to an agreement with them. There are details that need to be taken care of, but the project will move forward”, explained Alcocer Góngora.

A system of buoys would hold the net up, stopping the tide from bringing the seaweed to the coast. Although Alcocer Góngora commented that they have the correct permits, the director of Semarnat, José Juan Hernández Chávez, said he hasn’t heard of the project.

Distinguished environmentalist Jorge Fuente Gómez indicated that it is not prudent to go ahead with this plan anytime soon, as we are currently in the turtle nesting season.

“It is not sustainably recommended because to catch the seaweed the net has to be almost at the surface of the water. The net could inhibit the passage of turtles, and they would have to lay their eggs in the ocean, not being able to get to land”, he reproached.

He indicated that hotel owners are looking after their own interests without valuing the needs of the turtles as an endangered species. “This project should definitely not be authorized.”

Ecologist Guadalupe de la Rosa Villalba agreed with this opinion. She denounced the net and said that it would hurt species at the risk of extinction.

She added that a solution for the seaweed needs to be found, but not one that will damage natural resources. Specialists and local fishermen should be consulted, as they know the ocean currents, waves, and aquatic life better than anyone.

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