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August 1, 2019

Sargassum Barriers Helping Riviera Maya Beaches Meet Quality Standards

With the ongoing onslaught of sargassum that’s being carried on oceanic currents towards Mexican Caribbean shores this summer, more measures are being put in place to combat the effects of the marine algae’s overgrowth on tourism and local operators.

El Universal revealed yesterday that Grupo Vidanta—a leading tourism infrastructure developer operating throughout Mexico and Latin America—is allying itself with efforts currently being carried out jointly by Mexico’s federal, state and municipal governments to intervene in the influx of sargassum before it arrives on Riviera Maya’s beaches and, thus, avoid the damage it would otherwise wreak on local ecosystems.

Grupo Vidanta took charge of the latest project—the installation of a three-quarter-mile-long offshore sea barrier, which began back on July 3, 2019. According to El Universal, the developer described the new measure in a statement as, “a barrier of more than1.2 kilometers in length, specially designed to contain said seaweed before it reaches the beaches without damaging the ecosystem.”

Grupo Vidanta said that the specialized marine-mesh barrier being installed in the sea, “stands out for its easy handling and maintenance during hurricane season.” The company emphasized that the mesh being used in this effort is very thin, and offers the advantages of avoiding ensnaring marine life, as well as being highly efficient in the capture of plastic contaminants.

Once retained by the barrier, the unwelcome seaweed is collected and transported for final processing into compost—well away from the beaches, which represent one of the region’s most valued assets. Experts have pointed out the importance of harvesting the superfluous sargassum while it’s still at sea in order to avoid its mass deposition and decomposition along the coast, which damages the beach, seagrass, seawater and reefs, besides creating an unwelcome odor that deters tourism and affects local service providers.

Governor Carlos Joaquín told Riviera Maya News that the region is making successful strides. “In areas where the barriers have been installed, there is a 70 percent containment of the seaweed. The remaining 30 percent is cleaned with volunteer support,” he said.

After more than 40 days of beach clean-up efforts on the part of nearly 8,000 volunteers, local citizens and government employees have reportedly gathered close to 39,000 tons of sargassum from the beaches and collected 219 tons of seaweed from the sea. The weapons they’re wielding in this battle consist of containment or diversion barriers, twill vessels, beach sweepers, conveyor belts, dump trucks, rakes and rods.

Just yesterday, Riviera Maya News reported that the region’s beaches meet with global quality standards, despite the continued presence of sargassum. The Quintana Roo state government’s latest water-quality analysis, performed on samples taken at Puerto Morelos, Playa del Carmen and Tulum, showed all parameters to be within national and international standards, and without sanitary or environmental risks.

Source: LAURIE BARATTI for Travel Pulse

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