Pride asks government to clean up Guana Bay beach

POSTED: 08/23/11 12:25 PM

Sargassum assails Dutch-side beaches

St. Maarten – A couple of weeks ago COM Vice president Pierre Aliotti was the first one to sound the alarm over the arrival of massive amounts of sargassum on St. Maarten’s beaches. Now the problem has also spread to the Dutch side of the island, where Dawn Beach, Gibbes Bay and Guana Bay Beach in particular are affected. While Aliotti has warned that sargassum poses a health risk when it is wet, Dutch-side authorities have remained mum on the subject.
St. Maarten Pride Foundation president Jadira Veen wrote in an email to Minister Theo Heyliger that businesses on these beaches would appreciate government assistance with cleaning up the beach. “They cannot keep up with the tremendous amount of seaweed washing up since June,” Veen wrote.
The Oyster Bay Resort has taken on the cleanup of Dawn Beach and Joan Verwoord also helps out. Veen noted that last Saturday all recreational activities at Guana Bay Beach have come to a full stop, because the beach is completely covered with sargassum.
Veen suggests to Minister Heyliger to send workers to Guana Beach and to let them rake up the seaweed and store it on higher grounds. “The seaweed is a great fertilizer for the beach vegetation, and once dried, the fine particles blow out to sea.”
Veen suggested that, if the Minister has no budget to clean up the beach, he employs juveniles who have been sentenced by the court to do community service. “All it will take for the group is to rake up the seaweed to higher ground, away from the shoreline. Once that is done, the seaweed that is currently out in the bay will also wash up on the shore within days.”
Veen points out that raking up the seaweed is not an easy job, because the sargassum lies “five blankets thick on the sand.” She suggests that the material can be used by farmers, but that it should not been hauled to the landfill.
“Guana Beach is also one of the prime turtle nesting beaches. At this time it is unknown to me how the seaweed has affected the nesting.”
Veen reminds Minister Heyliger in her email that Pride has asked several times for the establishment of a beach authority, charged with managing St. Maarten’s 37 beaches. “All of our beaches need beach patrol, because vendors and hawkers harass our visitors. Some people leave their entire barbeque and picnic trash behind. Others make bonfires on the beach. Through our voluntary beach cleaning we have learned that several beaches are used for criminal activities – we have found ladies bags filled with credit cards, passports and international currencies.”

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