Deputy Premier and Minister for Natural Resources and Labour, Dr. the Hon. Kedrick Pickering announced that from all indications the Sargassum seaweed that has been casting a brown mat on the seashore is here to stay and that residents might need to accept this situation as the new norm.
Hon. Pickering said that in consideration of the Territory’s options to deal with the situation it was decided that a special purpose vehicle designed to remove the weed was not an option.
“The best available scientific evidence and advice is that it would be a mistake to try and remove the seaweed while it is floating because of the fact that it is a nursery for the fishing species. Not only that it would be a logistical nightmare because it isn’t something that is going to ease up tomorrow. It is something that is with us, so learning, understanding and to appreciate how to deal with it is where the focus is at this point in time,” Hon. Pickering explained.
In stressing that the Sargassum brown spots are here stay, the Minister of Natural Resources added: “If I can say nothing else to the wider public in the BVI I would just say that this is something that we all will have to get accustomed to for the foreseeable future. We will have to learn how to mitigate against any possible effect on our communities and that it is going to take a lot more than Government, it is going to take nationwide involvement and participation to be able to enable to ensure that there are no long term and hazardous effects from this.”
The Deputy Premier also refuted claims that quantities of fish are turning up dead on the shores of the Territory, and noted that the fish kills are isolated situations.
Some sections of the media carried stories accompanied by images highlighting that fish, lobsters and other marine life forms were strewed on certain shores dead as a result of the seaweed situation. This matter has since caused community concern; however, the Deputy Premier allayed concerns about the alleged dead marine life.
Hon. Pickering in response to a media question on the matter said that the Sargassum Seaweed has the propensity to cause oxygen depletion in areas where it is thick and explained that this could be an explanation for why some fish died.
“There is no widespread fish dying on beaches in the BVI!…The fish and fish species that have been noted have been in specific areas where Sargassum Seaweed is very thick and we want to emphasize that.”
A member of the media alluded to concerns about buying fish in light of the fish kills and the Minister declared that there is no need for such concerns: “There is absolutely no relationship to what happened there (fish dying) and the supply of fish. I want to emphasize and re-emphasize that the statement about fish dying on the beach is factually incorrect,” Hon. Pickering said.