Anamar, the great absentee in the Sargasso Cabinet

The National Authority of Maritime Affairs was directly excluded from the presidential decree creating this cabinet.

The President of the Republic, Luis Abinader, has established the Cabinet for the Fight Against Sargasso, configured as an advisory council. This cabinet assumes the responsibility of devising and coordinating the implementation of public policies aimed at counteracting the impacts of sargasso on the beaches and coasts of the Dominican Republic.

This initiative is officialized in Decree number 379-23, dated Monday, August 21, 2023.

The Cabinet is made up of the Minister of Tourism, the Minister of Environment and Natural Resources, the Minister of Economy, Planning and Development, the Executive Vice President of the National Council for Climate Change and Clean Development Mechanism, the Commander General of the Dominican Republic Navy, a representative of the Ministry of the Presidency and a representative of the Association of Hotels and Tourism (ASONAHORES), representing the private sector.

As an advisory council, the absence of the National Authority of Maritime Affairs as a major part of the Cabinet is noteworthy, despite the experience of this institution in sargassum issues for more than 10 years.

The National Authority of Maritime Affairs (ANAMAR) was created by Law 66-07 to provide the Dominican State with the technical, scientific and legal tools necessary for the research, conservation and sustainable use of the living and non-living resources of the sea, existing in our maritime spaces.

ANAMAR also has as part of its fundamental objectives, to harmonize state policies to give them coherence and make them compatible with current International Law, in order to achieve a correct oceanic administration and the full development of the maritime sector.

Anamar and sargasso

Since 2011, Anamar has been monitoring the phenomenon and has focused a large part of its functions on the study of sargassum and its effects on the environment and human beings, in addition to exploring solutions for the use of the seaweed.

Since the beginning of 2022, Anamar has acquired a satellite service for the detection and monitoring of sargassum in open waters from the French company CLS, a pioneer in the provision of surveillance and control solutions for the Earth since 1986. The company is the exclusive provider of environmental data for the renowned Argos system, at a cost of 12,000 euros per year.

The purpose of this system has been, since then, to have a period of time that serves as a warning to hoteliers and state institutions to know the approximate amount and direction of the sargassum.

Also, last year Anamar carried out a chemical characterization of the sargassum that reaches the Dominican coasts and found that the seaweed contains high levels of nitrogen and sulfates, releasing hydrogen sulfide, ammonia and methane as it decomposes.

A Multisectoral Roundtable for the Integral Management of Sargasso that did not produce any results.

In February 2023, the Multisectoral Roundtable for the Integral Management of Sargasso was created in the Dominican Republic, whose general objective is to manage pelagic sargassum arrivals in order to mitigate the ecological, tourism, economic and human health impacts.

The roundtable proposed a plan for the integrated management of sargassum that includes having an updated and reliable information center, monitoring the quantity and direction of sargassum in the ocean, implementing management solutions for priority or emergency areas, reducing vulnerability and health risks to people and, finally, promoting and facilitating the development of companies willing to use the seaweed.

The governance of the Table for the Integral Management of Sargasso is headed by the Ministry of Environment with a technical advisory committee. The other State institutions participating are the Ministries of Tourism, Economy, Health, Energy and Mines, Foreign Affairs, Industry and Commerce. In addition, the Dominican Navy, the National Authority of Maritime Affairs, the Dominican Council of Fisheries and Aquaculture and local management structures.

At the beginning of July, Jake Kheel, vice-president of the Punta Cana Group Foundation, commented to Diario Libre that one of the great failures in the response of the Dominican Republic to face the sargasso crisis is that there is no coordinated effort and that no joint decisions are being taken and the absence of funds to mitigate the effects of the sargasso. To this end, he proposed the creation of a public-private trust for the government, businesses and affected communities to contribute to this fund and to have a governance that administers, develops priorities and works throughout the year.

In response to Jake Kheel’s statements, the Vice Minister of Coastal and Marine of the Ministry of Environment, José Ramón Reyes, added: “From the Ministry we confirmed in February the multisectoral and intergovernmental table of sargassum, which convened all sectors both public and private. But after this, all the participants lost interest”.

Last July 18, Diario Libre published an interview with Mr. Jimmy García Saviñón, president of Anamar, where he advocated that the country should focus its efforts on the collection of sargassum and suggested the installation of a sanitary landfill for the final disposal, besides explaining that it is imperative that the population understands that a definitive solution is not yet in sight. “Many people complain and attack the institutions, the government and the mayor’s offices, alleging that they do nothing with the sargasso. But the fact is that ¡there is nothing to do with it either here or in any other country in the world,” the official maintained during his participation in the Free Dialogue.


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Dominican Republic Live Editor

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