NiCE workers clear sargassum from beaches

Jefferson’s Beach in West Bay gets a clean-up from this crew of NiCE workers.

Seasonal workers in the National Community Enhancement programme have been removing sargassum seaweed from the local beaches over the past week.

The seaweed is being taken to the George Town landfill, though some has been sent to the Department of Agriculture where it is being tested and trialled for use as fertiliser, according to officials.

The Department of Environmental Health is coordinating the use of grab trucks to collect sargassum from South Sound, Coe Wood and New Cemetery Beach in Bodden Town; as well as from the Frank Sound Junction launch ramp.

As part of the work project, 18 work teams are clearing beach accesses, removing roadside vegetation, installing road signage, repainting markings and removing litter from parks and cemeteries. A crew of NiCE workers at the landfill is processing recyclables, tire shredding, clearing vegetation and cleaning, stripping and painting equipment.

“With the first week of the NiCE Summer Project 2019 now completed, I am pleased to announce that the clean-up and enhancement initiatives have been successfully carried out so far,” said Minister for Commerce, Planning and Infrastructure Joey Hew in a press release.

“I will be touring to visit several of the work teams later this week, to talk to the NiCE operatives and to see firsthand some of the outstanding beautification [and] remediation efforts they have accomplished.”

A team of NiCE workers clears sargassum from South Sound dock and the beach.

“This has been a huge effort to both coordinate and accomplish, and I want to take this opportunity to thank the Public Works Department, National Roads Authority and the Department of Environmental Health. This cross-agency approach is a model we want to perpetuate throughout Government,” he added.

For the summer work programme, 486 unemployed Caymanians and spouses signed up to take part in the two-week paid initiative which will continue until Friday, 19 July.

At the registration day, held last month, Department of Environment Sustainable Development Officer Nathan Dack explained to the workers what was causing the large blooms of sargassum in Cayman waters and why they pose a threat to marine life. He also told them that raking and removal by hand was preferable to using heavy machinery on beaches.