Solutions being considered to deal with sargassum in the DR

From barriers to barges for collection and applications such as fertilizer and pharmaceuticals were among the solutions presented by several companies in response to the massive arrival of sargassum to the Dominican coasts during a regional conference on the algae held last week in Santo Domingo.

The Greater Caribbean – European Union Regional Conference: “Turning Sargasso into an Opportunity”, held at the headquarters of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Mirex) opened a stand where several companies of French, German, American and Dominican capital, among others, presented services, ideas and machinery that they believe could mitigate the presence of sargasso.

The meeting, attended by authorities and national and international experts, counted with the participation of students, represented by young people from St. Mary’s School between 12 and 14 years old, who, motivated by the impact of the seaweed on the beaches, studied the levels of effectiveness of wet or dry sargassum for its use as fertilizer.

The stand featured companies such as Neat Sand Neat Aqua, which collects the sargassum, transports it to a recycling plant to dry it, grind it and extract alginate, used as a natural preservative and fucoidan, a component used by the pharmaceutical industry.

When asked about the cost of removing the seaweed, company representatives indicated that it will depend on the tonnage, the surface area of the linear space of the coast, the frequency and access.

In this sense, Gustavo Negrette, executive of Makolloris, representative in the country of the Danish company Desmi, showed the barriers and its Desmi Sea Turtle, a barge “that works in shallow and deep waters”.

Negrette indicated that the barge “expels the sargassum up to 200 linear meters of discharge without sand, which is what is being sought”. He added that the cost of the factory is US$100,000, according to Diario Libre.

Other companies which offer services with barges such as The Ocean Clean Up, of French capital or Clean Cat, developed in the northern part of the country, were also present at the activity.

The massive presence of sargassum in the Dominican Republic has forced the hotel sector to change the management of the tourist destination and to bet on other activities away from the beaches. This was stated by Andrés Marranzini, vice president of the National Association of Hotels and Tourism (Asonahores), during his speech at the conference.

“From the point of view of the management of the tourist destination, it has made us change, and, although it is not sargasso mitigation, it has made us make changes from the architectural point of view. We are giving more weight to the swimming pools, you see that the hotels we are designing have swimming pools, they have spaces for activities away from the beach,” he said.

The businessman added that the country, as a destination, has not denied its reality regarding the sargasso issue. “In the season when there is sargassum, if the tour operator asks, he communicates, but we have achieved a tourist product that, in spite of the sargassum, we continue presenting growth figures”, he said.

Marranzini said that the private sector needs in its process of mitigating and facing the crisis the accompaniment of deep research on the correct way to deal with the collection and disposal of the seaweed.

He said that the palliative solutions that have been developed have evolved over time and some have been discontinued due to use of materials that have been banned.



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