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Haiti - ALERT : Algae invade the coast of the Great South
30/12/2015 10:26:24

Haiti - ALERT : Algae invade the coast of the Great South
For over one year the coasts of the Great South of Haiti, are invaded by an unusual species of algae known as Sargassum or Seaweed (which affects the French Antilles since 2011). The most affected communities are : St Jean du Sud, Les Cayes, St Louis du Sud, Côtes de fer, Jacmel, Cayes Jacmel and Marigot.

Sargassum once on land, form thick pile which begin to decompose releasing hydrogen sulfide, gas with an odor similar to that of rotten eggs. This gas can be hazardous if inhaled over a long period with symptoms such as headache, vomiting, difficulty breathing, irritation of the eyes, ears, throat, etc...

Furthermore, the invasion of the coast by the algae acts adversely on maritime activities in the affected departments. Navigation is almost impossible especially in the two most affected departments namely the South (Cayes-île-à-vache sea route) and the Southeast (Marigot-Belle Anse).

While the government insists on promoting tourism in these departments, this invasive species is only antagonize the many efforts made so far. To protect investments already committed especially to the ile-à-Vache, the Government has no other choice that to take all possible measures to rid the coasts of this invasive species.


The Ministry of Environment, as part of its mission of protection, conservation and awareness, having understood the situation, decided to address this issue at the highest level and intends to provide answers to the adverse effects and the harm caused by these algae.

To manage this phenomenon with multiple outcomes (health, biological and economic), the concerned Ministries launched the project "Coastal Sanitation of Protection of the Great South Coast" funded by the public treasury.

The Minister of the Environnement carried 24 December 2015 at the start of work in the South on the Place d’Armes of St Jean du Sud and the two Ministers Lyonel Valbrun (Agriculture) and Dominique Pierre (Environment) will conduct the launch of work in the South East this Thursday, December 30, 2015 on the beach of Raymond les Bains in Cayes Jacmel.

The project's objectives :

  • Collect Sargassum already spread along the coastline and clean beaches affected;
  • Retain newcomer algae on the high seas prevent them from reaching bathing areas;
  • Collect the Sargassum in high seas by employing the local workforce;
  • Build dams (net retention) to keep algae out of bathing areas;
  • Build breakwater in the waters of selected beaches;
  • Delineate swimming areas and prevent Sargassum arriving on the beaches;
  • Set up a popularization information system on algae and coastal protection;
  • Raise awareness on the behavior to adopt towards invasive species including this type of algae;
  • Install a signaling system to guide people on everything that relates to security in the compound of the beach;
  • Clean sea and coastline to protect the population against the harmful effects of decomposing Sargassum;
  • Provide local and foreign tourists an attractive setting.

In addition to these objectives, the Ministry of Environment and other stakeholders intend to strengthen the response capacity of local associations and organizations to deal with invasive species.

HL/ S/ HaitiLibre

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