WP1: Launch of the “Caribbean cooperation programme to fight against sargassum seaweed” through the first International Conference on Sargassum.
The International Conference on Sargassum, took place at the CWTC in Guadeloupe on 23, 24 and 25 October 2019. The main aim of the Conference was to bring together all those involved in the fight against sargassum and in order to provide an opportunity to lay the foundations for collaboration and a close partnership between Caribbean states and territories in the fight against sargassum.
The conference was divided into two components:
The first “scientific” component aimed to get better knowledge of the phenomenon, by taking stock of the means implemented in each state or territory to mitigate the harmful effects of massive strandings on the coasts exposed. It identified the different strategies implemented by public authorities to limit the economic, health and environmental impacts of the phenomenon, as part of a process of benchmarking good practices.
The second “cooperation” component had, in conjunction with regional multilateral organisations, strengthen collaboration between Caribbean stakeholders in this particular field. It contributed to define a common political strategy on this issue for the stakeholders and to organising joint international actions.
A joint declaration has been signed at the end of the conference, indicating the intention of the signatories to put the issue of washed up sargassum seaweed on the agenda of the next conference in Cartagena.
WP 2: Caribbean Forum on Sargassum
The Caribbean Forum on Sargassum, a true hub for everything to do with sargassum, aims to collect and centralise all scientific and technical contributions on the subject of sargassum seaweed and make them available to the general public. The Forum’s activity is built around three main areas:
1- Improving knowledge
These contributions concern the following 4 themes:
the characterisation of sargassum, at the genetic, biochemical, morphological, developmental and demographic levels;
the collection techniques at sea, and collection techniques on the ground;
the procedures for processing and recovering sargassums;
the economic, health and environmental impacts resulting from the sargassum flow, on both land and marine environments, as well as the geopolitical analysis of this phenomenon at international and local levels, and the potential spatial planning strategies for mitigating this phenomenon.
2 - Sharing knowledge
Setting up and running a multidisciplinary network of stakeholders from the quadruple helix: politicians, scientists and academics, civil society and the private sector in the sectors of forecasting, detection, collection, processing and recovery related to the sargassum seaweed phenomenon. This network will look to coordinate and oversee the sharing of experiences, in order to facilitate the exchange of expertise and technical skills across the Caribbean Basin.
3 - Improving skills
Improving and sharing knowledge will be the basis for improving skills in collecting and recovering seaweed. The network will also encourage training and professionalisation activities. These training courses, organised around seminars and courses open to everyone, will make it possible to train the stakeholders of tomorrow in the fight against sargassum.
WP3: Creation and facilitation of a Caribbean Monitoring and Warning Centre
The area of the Monitoring and Warning Centre extends over the entire Caribbean basin.
The Center will focus on two areas:
1 - Remote sensing
The Caribbean Monitoring and Warning Centre will produce daily (as soon as weather conditions permit), Caribbean-wide forecasts of sargassum strandings based on observations of sargassum mats formation and trajectories.
A real-time imaging component represented by an ocean modelling accompanied by a mapping with indicators related to the impacts of sargassum algae strandings will be available on the Forum platform, as well as the mapping of the dynamic forecasts and of the different waves of expected strandings (for different return periods
2 - Air quality monitoring:
The decomposition of sargassum stranded for more than 48 hours on the coasts generates toxic gases for the inhabitants: ammonia (NH3) and hydrogen sulphide (H2S). This degradation also has impacts on ecosystems and the fauna and flora of shorelines and mangroves that are still poorly understood. Governments must therefore act quickly. In this respect, Guadeloupe and Martinique, through the organisations Gwadair and Madininair, have developed a unique know-how in the Caribbean, particularly with regard to the scales for measuring emissions and risk assessment.
This WP provides for a technical and financial support system to encourage governments and local authorities of the partner States to install sensors to measure the concentration of harmful emissions resulting from the degradation of algae stranded on the coasts of their territories.
3 - Contribution to guides, reports and awareness-raising actions
Drawing on its experience in predicting strandings and measuring air quality, the Monitoring and Warning Centre will contribute to the drafting of the Forum’s guides and reports on remote sensing, forecasting and preventing strandings, and exceeding the authorized thresholds for the release of toxic gases.