The absence of public policy to manage sargassum affects Puerto Rico’s coastal communities differently. Although there are academic and governmental research initiatives, neither the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources nor the federal government have specific strategies to dispose of and value the potential uses of sargassum. Meanwhile, the government of Puerto Rico has been absent from regional meetings that have taken place since 2015 among countries and territories in the Caribbean.
Historias en la serie
Puerto Rico Lacks Direction to Manage Sargassum Problem
July 15, 2021
On Alfonso XII Street in the Punta Santiago, a coastal neighborhood in Humacao, 62-year-old Bermuda Vázquez points toward the beach that is blanketed with brown seaweed, known as sargassum. Although it was a day off in midsummer to commemorate the emancipation of slavery in the United States, beachgoers were nowhere to be seen. “The thing is that one is afraid of getting ill in that water with the sargassum that stinks. I’ve lived in this community all my life, and I remember when, on days like today, many people came to the beach. But you have to adapt to this sargassum,” Vázquez told the Center for Investigative Journalism (CPI, in Spanish).
Money-Making Opportunity Found for Sargassum in Puerto Rico
July 15, 2021
In a virtual conference coordinated by the United Nations Environment Programme, in which the new findings on sargassum are presented, it is unexpectedly revealed that a research and production center that works with this algae is located in Cataño, a town across the San Juan Bay. Via Zoom, Jason Cole, Executive Vice President of Innovations of a company called C-Combinator, explains how they have been developing sargassum-derived products in Puerto Rico since October 2020. But in an interview with the Center for Investigative Journalism (CPI, in Spanish), its director of Research and Development, Benjamin Jelen, confirmed that most of its raw material does not come from the island’s coasts, saturated with the brown algae, but from the coastal jurisdiction of Quintana Roo, in Mexico. Upon stepping into the company’s offices in Cataño, a research team can be seen analyzing sargassum samples. Bottles of biofuels derived from these algae are visible on laboratory tables.
Sargassum Hits the Puerto Rico Coasts, Department of Nature and Environment Lacks Mitigation Plan
March 16, 2023
Dozens of municipalities have privatized their public nuisances management programs and let companies handle public nuisances’ determinations, appraisals, legal representation in courts of the expropriation processes, and even seeing through the sales of expropriated properties.
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