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Cocal estate using seaweed as fertiliser

Sunday, May 10 2015

Mounds of Sargassum seaweed which has been washing up on the eastern coastline causing distress to fishermen, sea bathers and others are now being used as fertiliser in the Cocal Estate in Manzanilla by President of the Zoological Society of Trinidad and Tobago, Guptee Lutchmedial.

Lutchmedial told Newsday when the large deposits of seaweed started becoming a source of concern, he together with ten employees of the Manatee Conservation Trust, located at the Cocal Estate began using a special type of equipment to scrape the shoreline, and have been using the seaweed around the coconut trees in the Cocal Estate to rot and become fertiliser.

He said that he is also exploring whether the fresh seaweed could be fed to some of the cattle. Lutchmedial said: “We are using nature’s gift to our advantage, and trying to benefit the environment.”

He reiterated that because of a large influx of this sargassum seaweed they are using it to their advantage to fertilse the over 400 acres of coconut trees. “We are using a small overloader to scrape the shore, to remove the seaweed”.

He also told Newsday that up until yesterday he and his team had removed about 200 cubic yards of seaweed which have been placed at the root of coconut trees

Lutchmedial pointed out that he is very concerned about the hatchlings from the turtles becoming entrapped in the seaweed, and every effort is being carried out by he and his team to clean up the area, but they have been experiencing a challenge of the sea continuing to purge itself of the seaweed after every clean-up.

Lutdhmedial pointed out that it is his view that everyone should get involved in this clean up, including fishermen, the EMA, the National Operations Centre (NOC), The Regional Corporations and even the Ministry of Works, as well as the Tourism Ministry.

Lutchmedial noted that during several of his clean-ups in the past, he has observed that a lot of rubbish and debris from Brazil deposit itself on the Manzanilla coastline and he was not surprised that the seaweed has been traced to Brazil.

The phenomenon of large deposit of seaweed on the eastern coastline began early April and is showing no signs of letting up. The seaweed, known as Sargassum, has also drifted to coastal villages along the southwestern peninsula, blanketing the fishing villages of Cedros and Icacos with mounds of seaweed. Large floating drifts of seaweed have also been spotted by crews working on offshore platforms along the east coast which, in some instances, surrounds the platforms with a brown mass that often resemble brown cricket turf mats.

Newsday understands that the Mayaro/Rio Claro Regional Corporation has been depositing the seaweed at North Road, Mafeking for farmers to collect for use as fertiliser.

Fishermen are also affected since they are unable to go out to sea because the seaweed becomes entangled in their nets.

In a report dated March 25 last,titled “Changing the status quo on Sargassum Seaweed” by Institute of Marine Affairs (IMA), Community Education Officer, Information Centre, Lori Lee Lum, noted a similar event had occurred earlier this year on the windward side of Tobago.





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