MARIGOT: Since 2011, it has been noted an increase in sargassum seaweed strandings on the coasts of St. Barts and St. Martin. These have intensified since 2015, particularly between the months of March and August with a peak in June and July.
The harmful consequences of this phenomenon are now known to all and are currently felt by a large part of the population living on the impacted coastline, especially on the sites of Grandes Cayes, Cul de Sac, Baie Orientale, Galion, Quartier d’Orléans, Baie de Lucas. The decomposition of algae generates hydrogen sulfide (H2S). This gas can cause headaches, nausea and vomiting by also causing an olfactory discomfort for the population and severely penalizes the tourist economy of the island in particular for Saint Martin where the collection did not take place as agreed despite the multiple measures put in place by the State to support the Collectivities.
Since 2018, a local emergency plan has been developed on St. Barts and St. Martin for the support of the relevant communities by the State services. The services of the Directorate of Environment, Development and Housing inform twice a week the territorial services of the risks of strandings. At the same time, a guide to good collection practices has been published by the DEAL and is available to the public. Finally, the ARS carries out surveys to measure the presence of hydrogen sulfide on stranding sites. Today the important strandings of sargassum continue, as well as their decomposition. The odor nuisance generated indicates the strong presence of hydrogen sulfide and represents a health risk.