Task Force responds to Tobago Sargassum influx

More sargassum seaweed is expected on the Windward and Leeward sides of Tobago this weekend. Communities, beach goers and fishermen are being asked to exercise care near areas most affected.

Masses of the reddish-brown seaweed have been observed floating and banked on several shorelines on the Atlantic side of the island, including Hope, Blenheim, and Kendall, as well as Speyside, in the vicinity of Manta Lodge and Blue Waters Inn.

The Trinidad and Tobago Meteorological Service has also reported that it expects a further influx of the seaweed at some Tobago beaches on the weekend, on both the Windward and Leeward sides. This trend may continue over the next three weeks. The Met Office stated that it will continue to monitor the sargassum movement in the southern Caribbean until it returns to normal levels.

Chief Administrator, Raye Sandy said:  “We are aware that there is a possibility we might have a major sargassum influx this weekend. We hope that doesn’t happen but we are prepared.

“We would like members of the public to cooperate with the workers that we have on the ground, and to report all sightings in their areas as soon as possible. We are mobilised and ready in the event that we have a beaching of sargassum.”

The Tobago Sargassum Task Force has been engaged to respond to seaweed sightings in Windward Tobago. The task force is made up of a cross section of Tobago agencies, including: Environment Tobago, the Division of Finance and Enterprise Development, the Chamber of Commerce, the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force, the 211 call centre, the Department of Marine Affairs and Fisheries, Village Councils, the Community-Based Environmental Protection and Enhancement Programme (CEPEP), the Unemployment Relief Programme (URP), the Tobago Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) and the Office of Chief Secretary.

The Task Force was set up after a massive seaweed influx affected several communities and hotel areas last year. Chief Secretary Orville London declared the event a natural disaster and committed more than $4 million to the sargassum clean up.

The Assembly will inform the public about any clean-up operations, and the THA will meet with communities in affected areas.

Anyone seeking to report sargassum sightings in Tobago or to get further information can call the 211 24-hour contact centre. All photos and videos of incoming sargassum can be emailed to cdinfo@tha.gov.tt. Please identify the area where photos are taken.

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