Topical Solutions

Solving the Current Sargassum Seaweed Problem (2 July 2015)

The Sargassum seaweed is a problem for the tourism industry. However, it could be a God-sent solution for the national economy.

We seem to devalue the quality of our products. Our Sea Island cotton, sugar cane and molasses are superior products, perhaps partly due to our geographical location and geology. Sargassum accumulates pollutants in the sea. However, being the most easterly Caribbean island, our seaweed may have a higher value than that in Asia.

The chemical characterises of Sargassum have been studied and the test results are available on-line. The Government Analytical Laboratory should test some of the local Sargassum and compare it with the Asian product.

The Analytical Laboratory should then prepare a sampling and preparation method that can be used by home-based businesses. An example follows.

  1. Collect the Sargassum seaweed from the beach or sea in clean plastic bags.
  2. Spread it on a clean surface exposed to sunlight.
  3. Collect it when it is dry and brittle.
  4. Wear a mask and pound the dried Sargassum into powder using a mortar and pestle.
  5. Sieve the powder into plastic bags with a ‘ziploc’ type seal.

The Barbados Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (BADMC) should be given the opportunity to justify its continued taxpayer funding by finding several international markets for the processed powder, and several diverse uses for it. The BADMC should then negotiate the best prices for the Barbadian product.

Every Barbadian family should then start a home-based family business and start converting the abundant God-sent Sargassum seaweed into powder, with no waste products, and no utility energy requirements. All children in the family should participate.

Every person who has lost hope of participating in the Barbados economy, including the unemployed, incarcerated and homeless, can convert Sargassum into powder. Every person tempted into crime, including illegal drug dealers, can make this premium product.

Now that we are in the political trench, I hope that this opportunity is not wasted.  The beaches can be cleaned without the SSA investing in the new expensive equipment, and Barbadians can pursue their fortune.

16 thoughts on “Topical Solutions

  1. I am sorry but this is a weak suggestion to a current situation.
    It has way to many variables.
    its actually ridiculous the more i think about it. I hope this is not an indication of how this party plans to progress as it seems to have some good ideas so far.

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    • Hi Anon:

      This type of comment does not further the discussion. It is certainly not a type of response that is taught in any Barbadian Primary or Secondary school, but it is typical with political activists in the US. Please reject this approach, recall your former Barbadian education, and provide a better response. What specifically are you disagreeing with.

      Best regards,
      Grenville

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  2. Anonymous is right.
    Water is a precious and valuable commodity too…..but too much of it, too soon , ..and in the wrong places have constituted some of the most destructive events in all history.

    The damn seaweed is a CURSE.

    The cause is national unrighteousness where NATIONAL INSTITUTIONS are deliberately flouting their OWN laws. No sense dilly-dallying around the seriousness of the seaweed ….and it is NOT a blessing… it is a SERIOUS threat.

    Take this ‘solution’ down man…..

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  3. I’ve just looked at Miami beach on Google Earth, Its just over 600′ long. I haven’t been there for a while but from photos & video I’ve seen we’ve got well over 100000 ft³ here alone. It would take every Barbadian to go there and collect a supermarket bag full just to clear this one beach alone. At what cost? If each one were to pay for an average of 1 1/2 bus rides each way or the equivalent in fuel for driving, you’ve got a bill of over $1.5 million, just to clean Miami beach up. Surely we can come up with a better solution, one that gets to the seaweed before it hits the beach, something similar to what is seen here: http://www.aquamarine.ca/.

    The next thing is whether the above would be a worthwhile investment, what if the seaweed suddenly stops? We’ve had the seaweed now for 4 years so it already would have been worthwhile. Like all alga, this thing thrives on nutrients (phosphorus apparently) and warmth. We haven’t seen much difference in wind direction over the years so the seaweed is brought to us via a change in ocean currents and that ain’t going to change back too soon.

    I say that its here to stay for a while and that there will be an ebb & flow seasonally. I think therefore that the risk involved investing in ocean based mechanical solutions is relatively low from the supply end. What we do with it is a matter for discussion.

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    • Dear Philip:

      We agree that it would be better to harvest the seaweed before it reached the beach. However, once it is collected, it should be allowed to dry and Barbadians should be allowed to gather the dried product, free of cost, for processing.

      If the seaweed stops arriving, then no problem. But let us ‘make hay while the sun shines’.

      Best regards,
      Grenville

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  4. My thoughts are that ocean based harvesting is transient and can eventually follow the seaweed wherever it goes. A barge with a baling machine can compress and wrap it into manageable blocks and they can then be transported to shore. The bales can then be processed or even be used to build temporary barriers or dried for fuel.

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    • Dear Philip:

      That is a great improvement. The bales can be dried and collected free of cost by Barbadians for further processing.

      I sincerely appreciate your participation to refine the implementation plan through discussion, where optimizing efficiency and economy is the goal. We can either ‘shoot down’ any proposal with a “this won’t work” response, or we can think about how it can be done – which is the favoured response.

      Best regards,
      Grenville

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      • I would like to congratulate you on being so willing to swiftly adapt your position to adopt an improved solution. Too often our attitude has been to point out the negatives of a proposal without offering an alternative.

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      • Dear Gerry:

        Thank-you for your comments. Normally, if further analysis results in improvement, then well. However, if it diverges to disorder, then it is time to change course or propose another solution.

        Best regards,
        Grenville

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  5. Viewing sargassum as an opportunity instead of a problem is half the solution. We have many previously laid off NCC workers looking for an opportunity to work, yet the Minister responsible wants to invest in heavy machinery to clear the beaches, at the same time destroying sea turtle nests (which is illegal by the way, but will the Minister be charged? Lol…)

    I saw small boats in Hong Kong harbours scooping garbage from the water with a frame mounted at the bow. We have dozens of fishermen with small fishing boats that could be paid to do this, before the seaweed reaches shore.

    We also have plentiful land in fallow, not growing anything useful, waiting for the time it can be converted from agriculture go residential. Perfect for spreading and drying.

    Why can’t we do this? I don’t know but I have suspicions.

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    • Dear Carl:

      Most things can be positively viewed as opportunities to be grasped. Proposed solutions born out of this perspective can then be refined. Your suggestions are useful.

      Best regards,
      Grenville

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  6. Carl,
    All positive, however we must be careful of taking the sargassum and spreading it on fields before the salt is removed as it can be very bad for the soil. It should be carried to a designated area close to the sea where it can be spread out for the rain to wash it free of the salt.
    Philip

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  7. This is just the type of forum we need to discuss and determine solutions to everyday national issues.
    I am pleased to report that sargassum seaweed is being successfully utilized as an integral part ( 30-50 % by volume) of a soil amendment product developed by Envirotech Inc. It breaks down beautifully (even with the salt) when blended with other composting organic matter. This ‘Miracle Mix’ has been tested and found to have much positive impact on growth of fruit trees and other food crops. It is manufactured from 97 % items that would normally have been discarded. A 12 liter bag sells for $ 7 and every purchase entitles you to a free moringa or paw paw sapling, or passion fruit vine while stocks last. E-mail care@caribsurf.com to find out more. We have offered to purchase dried sargassum for $ 0.10 per kg delivered to The Belle.

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