First Sargassum Steering Committee installed as members met Wednesday

First Sargassum Steering Committee installed as members met Wednesday

At the Sargassum press conference on Wednesday were (from left) head of the Collectivité’s Environment Department Laurent Guillaume, Vice-President of the Collectivité Bernadette Davis, Secretary-General of the Préfecture Fabien Sésé, and Florian Mioni, responsible for the biodiversity mission with DEAL. (Robert Luckock photo)

MARIGOT--As foreseen in the national plan 2022-2025, the first Sargassum Steering Committee for St. Martin met in the Préfecture on Wednesday, following its creation on September 5 to better manage the Sargassum invasions in the short and long terms.

The committee, a collaboration between the Collectivité and the Préfecture, is co-chaired by Préfet Vincent Berton and President of the Collectivité Louis Mussington.
Members include Secretary-General of the Préfecture Fabien Sésé, head of Direction de l’Environnment et de l’Aménagement et du Logement (DEAL), the director of regional health agency ARS and the first and second vice-presidents of the Collectivité.
Other stakeholders are also closely involved in decision-making, such as Réserve Naturelle, Sindextour (Orient Bay), Verde SXM, air quality company Gwadair, Chamber of Commerce CCISM, Club du Tourisme, Fédération Inter-Professionnelle de la Collectivité de Saint-Martin (FIPCOM), marine trades association Métimer, the Anti-Sargassum Collective, residents association of Cul-de-Sac, and the Pinel Island ferry captains. DEAL is the secretariat of the committee.
The committee is described as an “operational body for the preparation of decisions, validation, implementation and monitoring of action plans, especially financial.”
Second Vice President of the Collectivité Bernadette Davis said the environment service is being reinforced by adding more employees and equipment.
“They have been doing a fantastic job, but as you can see, the amount of Sargassum varies from year to year and this year has been massive,” she said. “So, we want to be ready, and we are supported by the State which is providing the financing in the national plan.”
She said specific actions are going to be implemented: surveillance cameras, gas detectors, and floating booms that will act as barriers to the Sargassum. These floating barriers need to be fabricated and will be placed in the sea in Cul-de-Sac Bay and Baie l’Embouchure to protect the pond so Sargassum does not get into the mangroves.
For Cul-de-Sac Bay the focus will be on protecting the Pinel ferry departure dock with a floating barrier to keep a channel free for the ferries to go to Pinel and back. From May 2023, studies will be undertaken on constructing more permanent barriers.
“We are always open to long-term solutions, but there is nothing right now, as the whole Caribbean is experiencing this phenomenon,” Davis added,
As part of its “Sargasso II” plan, the State has made available a total of 36 million euros over four years, to be distributed among the various territories affected by Sargassum.

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