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Overgrowing seaweed hits main industries in Barbados



Barbados, a tropical island country located at the easternmost tip of the Caribbean Sea, has been suffering from overgrowing seaweed along its east coast, which has seriously affected the country's main industries of tourism and fishery.

"These sargassum come from the further east coast of [North America], then come all the way down to the Caribbean, we are having this problem for a couple of years now," said resort staff member Grantley.

This brownish seaweed named sargassum usually starts to pile up on the beach in early January. However, it appeared as early as the previous November over the past two years, and can accumulate four to five meters thick in three days.

According to international research in recent years, the over-breeding of seaweed is fueled by global warming and the discharge of industrial wastewater into the sea. The increase of nitrogen and phosphorus into the ocean accelerates this marine plant's reproduction speed and scale, which will deplete the oxygen in the seawater and cause massive fish deaths.

The excessive growth of seaweed poses a great challenge to fishery, and further confines the socioeconomic development of the country.

"The sargassum seaweed is an increasing threat to our fishing industry. They are being threatened obviously in the context of their livelihood. So, these are issues that we have had to battle with," said Kerrie Drurard Symmonds, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of Barbados.

At a 360-meter-long tourism beach, bulldozers need to work for four hours to clear up the sargassum before tourists arrive.

"It started to give out a bad odor. People are not really happy being in the sea until it takes a while for the workers to clean up the beach," said Wiend, a driver at a local tourism company.

Across the entire east coast of Barbados, at least 500 forklifts carry out such operations every morning.

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