Los trabajadores que retiran el sargazo de las playas, se exponen a una elevada cantidad de gas que se desprende al escarbarlo.
El problema del sargazo que se acumula en algunas playas de la Riviera Maya, como Tulum, Xcalak y Playa del Carmen, no solo tiene que ver con el mal olor, es también una cuestión de salud por el riesgo que representa el retirar ‘montañas’ de algas, según científicos.
Cuando se descompone, el sargazo produce un ácido sulfhídrico, un gas que en cantidades pequeñas representa solo una molestia por su olor sulfúrico, parecido a un huevo podrido. Pero cuando se trata de enormes cantidades acumuladas en las playas, son muy peligrosas para los trabajadores que padecen de problemas respiratorios, pues las retiran con rastrillos bajo unos fuertes rayos del sol y sin tapabocas.
Este 2022, se encamina como el año en que más sargazo se habrá acumulado en las playas, superando el récord del 2018.
De acuerdo con la bióloga Rosa Rodríguez Martínez, los trabajadores se exponen a algo más que a un calor abrasador. “La cantidad de gases que se desprenden al escarbar el sargazo, en una ocasión llegó hasta 56 por millón. Es altísimo arriba de dos y es peligroso para la gente con problemas respiratorios”.
La mayoría de los trabajadores que retiran sargazo, no usa tapabocas ni cuenta con sensores de gases o servicios médicos; tratan de retirarlo de la playa lo más rápidamente posible, cuando todavía está fresco, de acuerdo con una publicación de sandiegouniontribune.com.
Un artículo publicado en Journal of Travel Medicine en el 2019 señalaba que “una exposición crónica a estos gases puede provocar síntomas conjuntivales y neurocognitivos, como pérdida de la memoria y problemas de equilibrio, además de síntomas no específicos como dolores de cabeza, náuseas y fatiga”.
Por su parte, el Departamento de Salud de Florida, en Estados Unidos, indicó que “el ácido sulfhídrico presente en sitios como las playas, donde grandes cantidades de aire pueden diluirlo, no debería afectar la salud”.
No obstante, el tema del sargazo representa molestias para los trabajadores que lo retiran, como para los turistas.
A menudo, en el sargazo hay hidrozoos, parientes de las aguavivas, que cuando se pasa mucho tiempo en contacto con las algas, se pueden sufrir muchas picaduras de hidrozoos, que son tóxicos.
Hoy en día, cuesta trabajo medir el impacto del sargazo en el turismo. La Riviera Maya sufrió una disminución de turistas a causa de la pandemia, sin embargo, la actividad turística no se paralizó porque México no impuso restricciones y los turistas estadounidenses siguieron llegando.
Entre enero y junio de este año, el turismo internacional superó los niveles previos a la pandemia, con 10.26 millones de visitantes, cifra 1.5% mayor que en la primera mitad del 2019. Pero el panorama sigue siendo complicado, ya que mientras siga llegando el sargazo a las costas mexicanas, el problema continuará.
TULUM, Mexico (AP) — Scraping the smelly sargassum seaweed off some beaches on Mexico’s resort-studded Caribbean coast has become not only a nightmare, but possibly a health threat, for the workers doing it — with the quantities washing ashore this year seemingly mountains not mounds.
Decomposing sargassum, which is actually algae, generates hydrogen sulfide gas. In small amounts in open areas, it’s not much more than an annoying odor: sulfurous, like rotting eggs.
But in the quantities seen in once-paradisical beach towns like Playa del Carmen, Tulum, and Xcalak, scientists say it can be dangerous to workers with respiratory problems as they rake up the seaweed maskless in the scorching heat. This year appears on track to be worse than even the peak sargassum year of 2018.
Ezequiel Martínez Lara is one of thousands of laborers who work six to eight hours per day heaving mounds of sargassum into wheelbarrows with pitchforks and then wheeling them off the beach to a growing pile on a neighboring street.
Martínez Lara used to earn as much as $50 per day guiding sports fishermen on catch-and-release outings, but now makes less than half that for collecting around 40 wheelbarrows of sargassum every day.
It is a Sisyphean task at a beach north of Tulum, where huge mats of seaweed float just offshore.
“If we clean it all off today, tomorrow more will have washed in,” said another worker, Austin Valle.
But workers like Martínez and Valle are exposing themselves to more than just the burning sun, says Rosa Rodríguez Martínez, a biologist in the beachside town of Puerto Morelos who studies reefs and coastal ecosystems for Mexico’s National Autonomous University.
“At the university we have started to measure the quantity of gases that sargassum produces when it is scraped up,” Rodríguez Martínez said. “At one spot (in a decomposed pile of seaweed) it reached 56 parts per million. That’s very high. Above two, that can be dangerous for people with respiratory problems.”
“I took off running” from the spot, she said.
Martínez Lara doesn’t have the luxury of avoiding the hydrogen sulfide gas. Like almost every other sargassum worker on the coast, he has no mask, gas sensor or medical care. He works at a day rate for the person who owns the house in front of the beach.
“When sargassum rots, it gives off a very strong odor like acid, and it is very bothersome when you breath it; it hurts a lot,” Martínez Lara said. He said he takes more simple precautions.
“We try to clean it off (the beach) as quickly as possible … to get it off when it is as fresh as possible,” he says.
A 2019 article in the Journal of Travel Medicine includes the disturbing warning, “More chronic exposure to these gasses can lead to conjunctival and neurocognitive symptoms such as memory loss and impaired balance, as well as non-specific symptoms such as headache, nausea and fatigue.”
The Florida Health Department, on the other hand, says “hydrogen sulfide levels in an area like the beach, where large amounts of air flow can dilute levels, is not expected to harm health.”
The sargassum problem isn’t as bad for tourists as for workers. But neither is it pleasant.
Ligia Collado-Vides, a marine botanist at Florida International University who specializes in studying macroalgae like sargassum, said, “If you’re swimming for a little bit, it shouldn’t be a danger at all,” but added that tiny jellyfish cousins known as hydrozoa often inhabit sargassum mats.
“If you’re going to be there for a long time playing in the sargassum, you can get like many, many, many stings from hydrozoans and those are toxic,” she noted, adding that long sleeves — something almost nobody wears at the beach — might help.
Sarah Callaway, a tourist from Denver, Colorado, was pretty much confined to playing with her kids in the pool in front of their rented beach house.
“The property is beautiful, but we were automatically struck … by the smell,” Callaway said. “The smell is really pungent and very strong. And then, yeah, we were disappointed with how much seaweed sargasso there is here.”
“The kids have tried to get in the ocean, but then they get kind of overwhelmed by it. So we really haven’t gotten to do the beach part of it, which is why we came,” she said.
It will also impact locals who depend on the tourist trade. Hundreds of thousands of people migrated to the coast in recent years for better paying jobs, but some may now be considering leaving.
Valle, the seaweed cleaner, said one of his friends in Tulum has been thinking of giving up her snack stand business because sales have dipped so much.
It’s hard to measure the impact on tourism. The Caribbean coast suffered a drop in visits during the coronavirus pandemic, but because Mexico never declared travel restrictions, testing requirements or mandatory mask rules, Americans have continued to come.
International tourism to the country as a whole surpassed pre-pandemic levels in the first half of 2022, with 10.26 million visitors from January to June, 1.5% higher than the 10.11 million tourists who arrived in Mexico in the first half of 2019.
Mexico’s strongest showing was with U.S. tourists. The number of Americans arriving by air in the first six months of 2022 was 6.66 million; that is 19.1% higher than in the same period of 2019.
But that boom may be slowing. Grupo Financiero Base noted in a research report that international tourist arrivals in June 2022 were down 13.8% from levels in June 2019. It’s unclear what — sargassum, inflation, or the war in Ukraine — may have caused that dip.
And overall tourist spending remains below pre-pandemic levels.
The picture is mixed because some of the most-heavily developed resorts like Cancun have not suffered as much from sargassum as lower-key resorts further south, like Playa del Carmen and Tulum.
Ocean currents and islands like Isla Mujeres shield Cancun from much of the floating sargassum. Given the large number of big hotels in Cancun with huge cleaning staffs and money to deploy floating booms, what sargassum does arrive is cleaned up more quickly.
The jury is still out on the floating booms, meant to trap sargassum mats at sea before they reach the beach.
Some tourists like the area so much they’ll keep coming back.
“I will absolutely be back. We love it here,” said Jeff Chambers, a tourist from Palm Desert, California, who was strolling down the main seaside street in Tulum. “We like things a little slower.”
Some locals like Victor Reyes, who works in real estate in Tulum, are more sanguine about the seaweed, noting that it’s not so bad in the winter months.
“In the winter it’s better. In November, when the tourists want to come, the sargassum is gone,” Reyes says.
As bad as sargassum is for people — and Collado-Vides stresses that much more study is needed — it’s far worse for seagrass, fish and other marine life suffocated by seaweed that drops to the bottom, decomposes and creates oxygen-depleted or anoxic layers similar to dead zones.
“Sargassum stays there and goes down into the water column so nobody sees it, but on the bottom it is creating anoxic conditions,” she said.
Recounting one recent monitoring expedition, Collado-Vides said: “It’s really terrible … the amount of vertebrates, the amount of crabs, the amount of fish dead in just a 1-square meter quadrant.”
The phenomenon has broken records this year and has become one of the great environmental concerns of the coastal areas of the region
More than six centuries ago, the first European expeditions that crossed the Atlantic to reach the American continent sighted a phenomenon known as sargassum. While documenting it, some of those explorers feared that their ships would get stuck in that brown tide. Now, in the last decade, sargassum has been invading the Caribbean coasts, destroying its ecosystem and becoming a threat to the tourism sector.
It all began in the summer of 2011, when sargassum started to accumulate on the beaches of many destinations with crystal clear waters and white sands. Mexico was one of the first countries to report it, but this environmental problem, which is lethal to many species and also harmful to human health, concerns almost the entire Caribbean region. This year, the amount of sargassum has already reached historic figures in the Atlantic Ocean: in June, more than 24 million tons of the “brown tide” were recorded in the Caribbean coast, from Puerto Rico to Barbados, according to a report from the oceanography laboratory of the University of South Florida.
What is sargassum?
The term refers to an uncontrolled growth of the species Sargassum fluitans and S. natans, brownish seaweed that live in suspension in the seas and move along the Atlantic, dragged by ocean currents. Although most seaweed live in the depths, with their roots attached to the bottom of the sea, these two species can live at the surface because they have gas vesicles, an adaptative mechanism that improves photosynthesis and allows them to spend their lives floating, explains Rosa Rodríguez, a marine biologist at the Institute of Marine Sciences and Limnology of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM).
While the uncontrolled accumulation of these algae is toxic in coastal regions, causing the massive death of many marine species, in the open sea they play a very important role in maintaining ecological balance. The Sargasso Sea, in the North Atlantic Ocean, is an exceptional ecosystem that provides food and shelter for hundreds of species, some of them unique to this floating habitat. In addition to serving as a platform for the protection and sustenance of marine fauna, it is part of the migration path of species such as eels, turtles and whales.
Why did it become a problem?
When the unrestrained blankets of sargassum reach the coast, they prevent light from filtering to the seabed, which is essential for the biology of corals and types of algae that produce food through photosynthesis. This, in turn, affects the biodiversity of the system they support.
One characteristic of sargassum is how quickly it can grow: in favorable conditions, it is able to double its biomass in less than 20 days. When the seaweed decompose on the shore, they consume large amounts of oxygen, causing anoxia and emitting toxic gases like hydrogen sulfide and methane, which are very dangerous for humans and can cause the mass death of many species.
The excess of nitrogen and phosphorus derived from the putrefaction process serves as fertilizer for them to grow more, generating leachates, sulfidic acid and arsenic, which are responsible for the fetid and rotten smell that has now become common in some Caribbean tourist destinations. Yet another problem, says the UNAM specialist, is the poor disposal of sargassum, which ends up becoming a pollutant.
Why is it produced, and where does it come from?
According to the strongest hypotheses, climate change is behind the spread and uncontrolled growth of sargassum. For years, various scientific studies have warned of how changes in the ocean currents due to the melting of the poles and glaciers, as well as the excessive ocean fertilization, are making this an increasingly common phenomenon.
The discharges and waste from industries and agriculture at the mouths of the great rivers of South America, such as the Amazon and the Orinoco, whose sediments and organic matter are pushed north by the currents, have caused seaweed to reproduce at a record speed, creating the Great Atlantic Sargassum Belt, a buildup of seaweed that is devastating the Caribbean coasts. “It is a clear example of how climate change affects us directly and indirectly,” points out the biologist.
Which regions are being affected?
Far from being an isolated phenomenon, the problem is impacting a large part of the Caribbean. The beaches of Belize, Honduras, Jamaica, Cuba, Mexico, the Dominican Republic and Barbados, or islands such as San Andres, Guadeloupe or Martinique, among others, are affected by the blankets of seaweed every year. “But large arrivals of sargassum have also reached the north coast of Brazil and even Florida,” says Rodríguez. This brown tide is not only impacting the Caribbean. The biologist explains, “it arrived in the Gulf of Mexico long before, but not in such high volumes.”
The first report of the appearance of sargassum came from local fishermen and a newspaper in 2011, according to Chuanmin Hu, an oceanographer with the University of South Florida team, which began tracking its growth in the Gulf of Mexico in 2006.
Is sargassum here to stay?
Hu is the author of a study that in 2019 warned that a change in the ocean currents was increasing the possibility that recurrent sargassum blooms in the tropical Atlantic and the Caribbean Sea would become the new norm. According to Hu, the data suggests that the amount of sargassum that reaches the coasts is growing steadily. According to Rodríguez, even though there is not enough information on the biomass that is reaching the different regions of the Caribbean, which fluctuates every year, “everything suggests that not only the problem will remain, but it will take a turn for the worse.”
Can it be controlled?
Since the problem was pointed out by environmentalists and hotel owners, governments have sought ways to clean their affected beaches in order to recover tourism. Nonetheless, Rodríguez explains that the resources invested so far have not been efficient. “Only a small area of the coast is being looked after, and ecosystems that are also affected by sargassum, like the mangroves and the jungle, are not being cared for,” she points out.
What’s more, the strategy of directly removing the buildup of seaweed from the coasts has a very negative impact. “A little sargassum helps prevent beach erosion, but when it’s a lot it has the opposite effect. And with the heavy machinery that is used to extract the seaweed, they remove a lot of sand,” says the UNAM expert. Another problem that stems from the removal of sargassum is how poorly they dispose of it. “Sargassum has a lot of arsenic, but also cadmium, lead and other heavy metals, as well as dangerous bacteria that pollute the environment,” she warns.
What to do with sargassum?
The arrival of sargassum in the Caribbean can be an opportunity for various industries, and in recent years different initiatives have promoted its use as a raw material.
The different properties of sargassum can be used by sectors ranging from construction to pharmaceuticals or the energy industry. Research centers and universities, for example, are using it as a source of biofuel, thanks to its composition of lignin, cellulose and hemicellulose; sodium alginate, a polysaccharide that can also be found in sargassum and that acts as a thickener, is used in the textile industry and for haute cuisine.
With the aim of promoting the principles of the circular economy, which uses everything while creating added value, some companies are taking advantage of the impurities left over from the alginate extraction process, such as fucoidans. These biopolymers, whose antitumor and immunomodulatory properties are currently being researched, could even be used as cancer therapies, according to some studies.
Chetumal (Ericka Novelo / 5to Poder).- El sargazo ha provocado la complicación en la temporada de anidación de tortugas en este año 2022, siendo los meses de junio hasta octubre donde mayor arribo se da de tortugas y en lo que va de la temporada se ha encontrado al menos 25 tortugas muertas de manera semanal entre el sargazo, siendo algunas especies que se pueden ver como son la tortuga Careta Careta, la tortuga Verde y la tortuga Caguama.
Al respecto, Víctor Rosales, presidente de la Asociación Proyecto Akk Mahahual, que mantiene un comité de vigilancia ambiental a lo largo de toda la costa maya, ha señalado que las tortugas marinas sean del tipo Careta Careta, Verde y Caguama, están viviendo una situación muy difícil durante esta temporada de anidación a raíz de la gran cantidad de sargazo que esta arribando a las costas de Quintana Roo, donde incluso se ha podido ver que estos animales quedan atascados entre el sargazo y una vez que pasa esto, es muy difícil que salgan vivos, aunque manifestó están haciendo todo lo posible para ayudar a las tortugas que están llegando a las costas de Quintana Roo para llevar a cabo la puesta de sus huevos y también para los neonatos que han eclosionado de sus huevos.
“Esta bastante difícil la temporada por la gran arribazón de sargazo lo cual afecta mucho la erosión de playa y tenemos un problema es que no tenemos tantas playas, son tres puntos importantes donde llegan las tortugas para anidar y son los que tenemos en vigilancia, ahorita llevamos casi mil ejemplares de neonatos tortugas bebes careta careta que han eclosionado, pero si hemos tenido perdidas, son varias no podría darte un numero exacto pero son muchas las que han muerto entre el sargazo”, comentó.
Agregó que la temporada de anidación de tortugas dio inicio en el mes de mayo y tras dos meses de su inicio, si ha habido hallazgos de cadáveres de estos especímenes que quedaron varados entre el sargazo, también se ha rescatado a muchos otros, aunque las tortugas continúan llegando.
“No hay mucho que podamos hacer con las tortugas adultas, porque ellas lo que hacen es bordear la zona del sargazo, nosotros estamos monitoreando todo y cuando eclosionan los huevos estamos ayudándolas para que puedan llegar al agua”, finalizó.
Multiple beaches in Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Tulum and the rest of the Riviera Maya continue to see the foul smelling seaweed known as sargassum piling up on their shores. The situation has gotten so severe that authorities have launched a special service to inform tourists about the levels of sargassum on local beaches on any given day. This, is meant to help folks plan their day at the beach.
Sargassum is reddish coloured seaweed or algae, to be more specific, that has formed naturally in the sea for ages. Up until about a decade or so it didn’t end up on the shore as it does now. According to experts there are several factors that have caused sargassum seaweed to end up on local beaches, with global warming, and the destruction of coral reefs being two of the main culprits.
In the case of Cancun, plenty of acres of coral reefs were destroyed in the creation of the man made beach that the main Cancun hotel zone currently sits on. This has caused tons of seaweed to ultimately wash up on Cancun shores.
Finding Beaches That Are Not Overrun By Seaweed
Inclement weather has plagued beaches in and around Cancun over the last few days. The strong winds typically make the sargassum situation worse. Many of Playa del Carmen’s main beaches are currently experiencing the arrival of excessive amounts of sargassum. Playa Fundadores, and Playa “El Recodo” two of the main public beaches are currently on high alert to the point where people may be barred from entering the beaches due to the overwhelming amount of sargassum that has ended up on those shores.
Nearby Mamitas beach, home of the famous Mamitas Beach Club is on a yellow warning level. Allowing the beach and the facilities within it to operate more or less as normal.In the Cancun main hotel zone things are actually not as bad as they could be. Playa Gaviota Azul, and Playa Chac-Mool two popular beach fronts on the Cancun main hotel zone remain at a green warning level. Indicating that the presence of the foul smelling seaweed is meant to be minimal over the next week or so.
Conditions could vary in the coming days particularly if the direction in which the wind continues to blow changes. Currently, for example the entire east side of the island of Cozumel is fully covered in sargassum. This is seemingly great news for the west side of the island though, which is seeing clear sand on its beaches.
The Tulum Beach That Has Been Devoured By Sargassum Seaweed
Arguably the main issue with sargassum on top of the fact that it may cause different types of skin lesions to people who come in contact with it, is that it has to be collected and removed from the beach. You can’t expect it to flow naturally back into the ocean. Locals in one of Tulum’s formerly most popular beaches, “Playa Paraiso” have found this out the hard way. Folks that provided all sorts of services on the beach front report that sargassum collection duties have not been performed on the beach for the better part of two months.
This has caused more and more algae to pile up on the beach. At this point the entire area is covered in layers upon layers of sargassum. This has caused overall sales in the region to drop by 80% as tourists are understandably not willing to stick around and sun bathe amongst so much sargassum. The containers that were formerly used to collect sargassum from the beach are also filled to the brim, and yet local authorities have not come by to empty them out to at least give locals a chance to take matters into their own hands to clean the beach.
New reports are suggesting that Quintana Roo’s sargassum season could be the worst in five years, worrying the tourist industry. Tens of thousands of tons of seaweed have already been deposited on beaches across the Caribbean. Sargassum is a brown type of seaweed that is known for accumulating on Cancun beaches during the spring and summer months.
The National Autonomous University Of Mexico has been following the sargassum since it first began appearing in large quantities back in 2014. The levels steadily increased, peaking in around 2018/2019 before showing signs of a slight dip in 2020. There is some speculation that this may have been attributed to the pandemic and the drop in carbon usage across the planet that came with it.
However, 2022 is seeing deposit rates and volumes that are higher than those in 2018. At least 32 thousand tons have been forecasted to arrive on Quintana Roo’s beaches over the coming weeks- an extremely high volume.
Sadly, the state is unable to keep up with the deposits despite its best efforts. Multiple methods are used in the fight against sargassum. Early detection is captured using drones, hot air balloons, and planes as well as satellite imagery from universities that study the natural phenomenon. It was hoped that the early detection would allow the navy to retrieve large amounts of the seaweed before it hit the shore, but multiple problems have surfaced preventing that from happening.
The Navy released 26 ships from Chetumal two weeks ago with the sole purpose of dealing with the sargassum, but poor weather is hampering the efforts. At least two of those ships are sargacerro ships, large vessels designed to collect masses of seaweed far out at sea. In theory, the high volumes these ships could pick up can make life much easier, but each year the ships are having a decreasing impact on the effort.
According to the statistics, 2020 saw the Navy pull only 4% of the seaweed collected from the ocean. 3% of the collected sargassum in 2021 was collected from the sea. 2022’s collection rate is down at 1%, meaning that 99% of all the seaweed reaching the Mexican Caribbean is being collected manually by workers on the beach.
The amount of workers needed to clear the beaches is severely hampering businesses’ bottom lines. Most hotels reported considerable drops in profit despite having extremely strong years in terms of occupancy. The amount being spent to hire people to clean the beaches in the morning is eating into profit margins, and when combined with remaining COVID restrictions like masks, enhanced cleaning, and other precautions it could spell rate increases for tourists.
For those unaware of sargassum, it may seem like a small problem. In reality, it’s one of the biggest issues facing the Caribbean. The seaweed forms into massive island-like tangles far out in the Atlantic Ocean, and drifts on ocean currents towards the Caribbean. At sea, it poses virtually no problems for the tourism industry and is actually an important ecosystem for many small sea creatures.
When it approaches land, it becomes more complicated. When it reaches the shallows, it transforms the typically crystal blue waters of the Mexican Caribbean into a murky brown, ruining the aesthetic that so many travel to the region for. On the sand, it piles up as high as a meter, having a similar impact as the brown water.
The biggest problem is the smell. Once on land, the sargassum begins to break down and produces a putrid sulfur-like smell in the process. Any tourists nearby avoid it, and beaches are often empty when the deposits are heavier.
Many tourists go as far as canceling their vacations if they’re aware of large deposits as the beach is such an integral part of the experience.
Source / Fuente : https://thecancunsun.com/ 6th May 2022
Destacaron las científicas Rosa Elisa Rodríguez Martínez y Brigitta Ine van Tussenbroek en la conferencia «Arribazones de sargazo en el Caribe Mexicano”
Ofrecida por el gobierno de Quintana Roo en el marco del día Mundial de la Tierra
Chetumal.- En el marco del Día Mundial de la Tierra el gobierno de Quintana Roo presidido por Carlos Joaquín a través de la Secretaría de Ecología y Medio Ambiente (SEMA), en coordinación con el Instituto de Ciencias del Mar y Limnología UNAM de Puerto Morelos, ofreció la conferencia magistral «Arribazones de sargazo en el Caribe Mexicano”, impartida las científicas Rosa Elisa Rodríguez Martínez y Brigitta Ine van Tussenbroek.
Rosa Elisa Rodríguez Martínez, durante la conferencia de las Jornadas de Educación Ambiental “Reconecta con la Naturaleza” resaltó que, es prioritario destinar más recursos y protección integral para la atención del sargazo y evitar implicaciones económicas y ecológicas. “Hasta ahora -dijo Rodríguez- hay avances en México, pero son insuficientes por la magnitud del problema que ocasiona el alga marina”.
Rodríguez Martínez puntualizó que, hay probabilidades que a futuro lleguen otro tipo de algas a las costas (ha sucedido en otras partes del mundo) y se puede empezar a perder los ecosistemas y afectar a las pesquerías. La científica recomendó que desde casa iniciemos acciones para reducir el cambio climático y la contaminación al planeta, de lo contrario este tipo de problemática continuará.
Brigitta Ine van Tussenbroek acotó que el sargazo es un problema complejo, no hay solución sencilla, se requieren muchos recursos, mucha voluntad política. Vivimos -dijo- en un lugar increíble, con un recurso invaluable: el mar, el sol y el azul turquesa del caribe que era gratuito, no nos costaba, ahora sí, es necesario destinar los recursos para preservar los ecosistemas, de lo contrario se van a perder. Una vez que colapsen – sentenció Ine van Tussenbroek- ya no hay cuenta de reinicio. Brigitta hizo un llamado al igual que su antecesora a sumar esfuerzos para que cada uno colabore al cuidado del planeta.
La Subsecretaría de Política Ambiental de la SEMA, al invitar a todas y todos los participantes a fomentar el equilibrio entre las necesidades económicas, sociales y ambientales y futuras, reafirmando el desarrollo sostenible; recordó el trabajo permanente que realiza la SEMA junto con Ayuntamientos y la Secretaría de Marina (SEMAR) para combatir el fenómeno.
There’s a pretty good chance that Cancun beaches in general will be filled with massive amounts of seaweed in the coming weeks. As reports indicate that large amounts of the foul smelling seaweed known as sargassum are slowly, but steadily making their way towards the shore. In Playa del Carmen authorities are trying to come up with creative ways to build up enough manpower to clean the local beaches. One of these solutions that they’ve come up with involves giving minor infractors the possibility of picking up sargassum as a form of community service. Doing so in an effort to avoid jail time.
The initiative that is allowing people to avoid jail time contemplates will only apply to those who have committed “administrative infractions”. These administrative infractions are things like urinating in public, littering and consuming alcoholic beverages, on public roads. To put it simply, pretty much all of the minor infractions that tend to land rowdy tourists in the slammer, will now be payable through this form of community service.
It’ll ultimately be up to the judge whether a particular infraction can be paid in this manner. Local judges approved of this form of punishment in recent weeks. It was actually the Zomefat (the organization responsible for cleaning the beaches) that proposed this idea to Playa del Carmen judges. The director of the Zomefat institute, Lourdes Vargues Ocampo, had this to say about the initiative.
“We talked to the civic judges a week ago to propose this initiative of having people do community service instead of having to pay other types of fines. The decision to approve the initiative was made unilaterally. Many judges showed a keen interest in this idea.”
This Type of Community Service Eliminates Potential Fines or Jail Time
The director of Zomefat would go on to clarify that as things stand right now folks who opt to provide this community service will not be charged extra fines, or have to spend time behind bars to further pay their debt to society. The judges have the power to assign a specific amount of community service hours to infractors. Which they must complete in order to be properly released. There have already been quite a few people that have chosen this route. Lourdes Vargues made those numbers public saying,
“Sunday we had 15 people, (doing community service), Monday there were 11, and Tuesday there were 7. In doing this type of work they are able to meet the sanctions that the judges impose on them. This is not a form of forced labor. These people are not criminals, they are just folks who commited minor infractions.”
There Are Other Ways To Join A Brigade To Clean Up The Beaches
You don’t necessarily have to commit a crime to be on a brigade responsible for cleaning up beaches. In fact, infractors who are part of these brigades are the ones wearing the bright orange vests. To distinguish themselves as community service workers. While the rest of the folks also picking up Sargassum may very well be getting paid for the job that they’re doing.
The Zomefat organization seems to be incredibly understaffed. So much so that they are offering a 9,000 MXN ( around 450 dollars) monthly salary to anyone willing to work cleaning up Playa del Carmen beaches alongside minor infractors. That may not seem like much to a lot of people. To put things into context though, the average salary that a Mexican worker makes is around 7,000 MXN per month. With a slight increase over the average salary, and the addition of community service workers Zomefat is hoping to create at least another 50-person team to clean up Playa del Carmen beaches.