Written By Kimani Wiseman
Climate change and the massive invasion of sargassum sea weeds are the “villains” on the fisheries sector. They partner like two face and the riddler in the movie “Batman Forever”, with a mission to destroy.
Climate change refers to significant changes in global temperature, precipitation, wind patterns, and other measures of climate that occur over several decades or longer.
Climate change is accelerated when there is an increase of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere such as carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, methane, sulphur dioxide, etc, which warms the earth.
The ocean absorbs more than 90 percent of the heat trapped on earth from increased green house gases, and a study published in January 2019 in the journal science, reports that the oceans are warming 40 percent faster on average than the UN predicted five years earlier, and ocean temperatures continue to break records year after year.
Warmer waters can make some fisheries smaller by putting metabolic stress on fish, making it harder for them to reproduce or find food. It can also cause zoo plankton, essential fish food to decline.
It also threatens to cause mass migration of marine species in search of the right conditions for feeding and spawning. In East Africa and the Western Indian Ocean, for example, ocean warming has reduced the abundance of some fish species, by killing parts of the coral reefs they depend on.
The largest reef in the world, the Great Barrier Reef is also experiencing “coral bleaching”. According to a CNN news article on August 8th 2018, the article states that in 2016 and 2017, marine heat waves caused by climate change resulted in mass bleaching which killed about half of the Great Barrier Reef.
Ocean acidification also occurs as a result of an increase in carbon dioxide in the ocean. The more acidic the ocean is, it is harmful to sea creatures like oysters, corals, plankton, and shellfish that grow hard shells made of a chalky mineral called “calcium carbonate”. If ocean water becomes too acidic, it can begin dissolving those shells.
Here are some solutions for climate change:
- Plant more trees: Trees remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere during photosynthesis.
- Use more renewable energy such as solar, geothermal, wind, etc and less fossil fuel.
- Purchase energy saving bulbs and electrical appliances.
Sargassum is stringy, brown sea weed that spends its life floating. Sargassum is invading a lot of beaches in the Caribbean and it is causing a crisis on the fisheries sector. Scientists are still unable to ascertain the reasons for this massive invasion, although some speculations have been made.
An invasion of sargassum smother sea grasses and coral reefs, it tangles up fishermen motors, engines, nets, and their lines. Nesting sites for turtles can be blocked. In 2015, over 40 sea turtles died in Barbados after they became “entangled” in large mats of sea weeds.
Here are some solutions for sargassum:
- In Indonesia, a 25 year old guy has invented biodegradable food packaging made from sea weed.
- In Stlucia, one entrepreneur is turning sea weed into plant tonic, while in Barbados a fertilizer project is already taking place. Sea weed has a nutrient content of about 1- 1.5 percent nitrogen, 0.5 – 1.5 percent phosphorous, and 1- 2 percent potassium. It can also be used as mulch and for compost. It must be noted that before using sea weeds: it must be washed properly to remove all the salt, and also tractors should not be used to remove the sea weed. Using tractors would remove a lot of the sand from the beach. Sea weed is very important for the marine ecosystem, but when there is a massive invasion, it causes problems.
Don’t you think that in the Caribbean, more persons should get on board and turn all these sea weed into something “profitable”, instead of having it destroying our beaches?