Sargassum Influxes Transatlantic Triple Threat

For more than a decade, the Wider Caribbean and West Africa have experienced an unprecedented Transatlantic Triple Threat- Sargassum Influxes. This threat has also been described by scientists as the Great Atlantic Sargassum Belt, emphasizing the magnitude and complexity of this environmental issue.

Sargassum influxes have caused significant social, economic and environmental impacts resulting in challenges to already strained climate-sensitive socio-economic sectors including Fisheries.

Sargassum influxes result in reduced access to fishing grounds and disrupted fishing operations when, in worst case scenarios, fishers cannot take their boats out to sea. Fisheries and aquaculture may also be severely impacted by the mortality of fish and other marine life, resulting in reduced and/or altered fish catches.

In Barbados, the arrival of massive amounts of Sargassum have coincided with a dramatic decrease in flyingfish landings from 981 tons in 2014, to 278 tons in 2015. This represented a 72 percent decline in one of the island’s most important fisheries.

Speede R. F., S-A. Cox and H.A. Oxenford. 2019. Best practice guide for Caribbean fishers coping with sargassum influx events. Centre for Resource Management and Environmental Studies, University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus. Bridgetown: Barbados. 23 pp

Emerging impacts recently reported in the energy and water sectors highlight the need for adaptive management strategies to address this crisis. While efforts to explore potential opportunities are underway, the reality is that sargassum influxes remain more of a threat than a benefit until key issues are resolved.  

Poem Commissioned by Blue Shell Productions
Written and Performed by Cyndi Celeste
(© Cyndi Celeste 2022)

Cover Photo credit: Hazel A. Oxenford