BRIDGETOWN, Barbados– Environment and National Beautification Minister, Adrian Forde, is drawing a parallel between illegal dumping at sea and the heavy use of pesticides in fields across the island.
Forde, addressing the launch of the Barbados International Coastal Cleanup, hosted by the Caribbean Youth Environment Network, drew linkages between the influx of sargassum seaweed on the island’s south and east coasts and illegal dumping and the use of chemicals.
He told the audience that sargassum seaweed should be regarded as the “perennial grinch” that came every year due to increased temperatures because of climate change, but because of the “anthropogenic behaviors of our people.
“That is the bottom line. Our oceans are being loaded with nutrients, nitrates and phosphates, and other harmful chemicals because of illegal dumping and indiscriminate garbage disposal, which is strewn across our beaches, gullies, and land space or the lithosphere….
“When this happens, it ends up at the beach; it ends up in the sea; it causes the sea to be overloaded with nutrients; it causes a wide oasis for sargassum to proliferate, and when it proliferates in the ocean, it comes to our beaches in numbers, and it becomes a perennial problem,” Forde added.
He said studies have shown that sargassum had higher than accepted levels of arsenic, mercury, cadmium, and other heavy metals, which are harmful to consumers.
Forde said that sargassum could sequester carbon dioxide and reduce ocean acidity, thereby removing harmful chemicals from the sea.
“The writing was on the wall,” he warned, noting that it is clear that these harmful chemicals made their way into the ocean because of pollution.
“That is why…it is a call on Barbadians to put brakes on this unfortunate trend of illegal dumping. Apply handbrakes immediately because it redounds to the destruction of your life…our marine life, our life on land, our life in the air. We have to do better as a country…,” he said.
The Environment Minister said the government was on the “cusp” of the start of the first ever Debt for Nature Swap, which would allow Barbados, through the Nature Conservancy and international agencies, to put money into preserving its maritime environment through spatial planning.