With the 2015-2016 tourism season now on, Anguilla has begun the daunting task of removing masses of seaweed (sargassum) from at least ten of the island’s badly-littered beaches.

It is a Government and community driven partnership – through the Ministry of Home Affairs – with the involvement of a number of agencies including the Department of Environment; Department of Infrastructure and the Department of Agriculture.

The Executive Council has approved US$26,570 towards the cost of removing of the seaweed from Sandy Hill (where the work commenced on Thursday, October 22), Shoal Bay West, Maundays Bay, Cove Bay, Blowing Point Beach, Forest Bay, Long Pond Bay, Junks Hole Bay, Mimi Bay and Sile Bay. The beaches are being cleaned by a combination of manual work, by a number of persons, as well as heavy equipment such as excavators. It was decided that heavy equipment would only be used at Sandy Hill Bay, Forest Bay, Long Pond Bay and Junks Hole Bay. Care is being taken to avoid the removal of large quantities of sand in the process.
A number of Government officials were at Sandy Hill when the work began there. They included Mrs. Cora Richardson Hodge, the Elected Representative for Sandy Hill and Minister of Home Affairs; Mr. Kenneth Hodge, Principal Assistant Secretary; Mr. Rhon Connor of the Department of Environment; and Mr. Jobern Gumbs of the Department of Infrastructure. The Minister expressed delight that the beach-cleaning project had begun and that many persons had undertaken to become involved in the work. She said other persons, belongers of Anguilla, and particularly the unemployed, were still being invited to participate in the clean-up effort.

Two locations have been used, so far, to store the seaweed: a section of the Corito dumpsite and the marl pit on the White Ground Road, Sandy Hill. It is hoped that after the necessary treatment that the deposits will be made available to farmers for agricultural purposes.
Anguilla is among various Caribbean islands, as well as many other places, outside the region, where beaches, reefs and coastlines have become inundated with the seaweed. The Atlantic Ocean’s Sargasso Sea was named after the algae as it hosts large deposits of the seaweed/sargassum.

There have been many expressions of relief and support since the commencement of work to remove the offending deposits from Anguilla’s beaches. Those expressions have come from visitors and residents, many of whom frequent the island’s beaches but were discouraged by the unsightly and smelly seaweed which restricted access and sea-bathing. While deposits are still floating in, the mass clean-up is helping to preserve Anguilla’s pristine beaches.