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Sargassum clean-up in Quintana Roo. Sargassum clean-up in Quintana Roo.

Tourism down 30-35% due to sargassum: Playa del Carmen mayor-elect

3-meter-high piles of seaweed are paralyzing tourism and fishing, says the Morena party senator

The mayor-elect of Solidaridad, Quintana Roo, estimates that tourism has dropped as much as 35% due to sargassum seaweed washing up on a 480-kilometer-long stretch of otherwise pristine Caribbean beaches.

Laura Beristain Navarrete told the newspaper Milenio that the sargassum situation is of national importance. Piles of seaweed as high as three meters are paralyzing tourism and fishing, she said.

“Environmentalists and the government are looking for alternatives,” said the incoming mayor, who is also a senator with the Morena party.

She and fellow Morena senators are planning a series of meetings with specialists and elected officials to discuss the damage caused by the seaweed, the results of which will be presented to president-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador.

The intention of these meetings is to create a governmental agency dedicated to addressing the sargassum crisis.

Options include placing nets offshore to contain the seaweed before it reaches the beaches. The weed would then be collected by boats. Another option would be to use tractors to collect the seaweed after it washes up on the beaches.

Senator Beristain said beach clean-ups should occur daily in the state to remove the sargassum.

State authorities said last week that 80,000 cubic meters of the seaweed had been removed between June 22 and July 22 on beaches in Cancún, Solidaridad, Tulum, Puerto Morelos, Othón P. Blanco and Cozumel.

The president of the Cancún and Puerto Morelos hotels association described the impact as huge, and of international proportions, given that it’s not just Mexico’s problem, but one affecting all the islands of the Caribbean.

Some people are suggesting that it should be declared an international emergency, Roberto Citrón said.

Two researchers warned this week that the sargassum could cause a serious environmental disaster for beaches in the region.

Source: Milenio (sp)

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