Reach Alcance Edition 16 | Editorial: ‘Uncontrollable Seaweed’
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Front cover photo by Gianni Cumbo
Editorial: Martín Serrano
It could be found in mass, strewn throughout the shores of Ceuta and Tarifa in 2016, and in the last two years it has spread, likely because of climate change and the weakness of the waters that bathe us. Today, the rate of growth of the Rugulopteryx Okumurae seaweed has become even more aggressive.
This is an invasive foreign Asian seaweed, and it’s taking over the Strait of Gibraltar’s seabed and covering the surrounding beaches of Spain and Gibraltar.
According to professor John Cortés, this seaweed has already been observed on beaches further away in Huelva to Estepona.
Internationally renowned scientists have already warned that we are on the brink of an environmental catastrophe, not only affecting our own biodiversity, but also causing significant losses to the fishing industry. This is down to local marine life fleeing from areas where this seaweed is most prominent.
Local fishermen’s nets are becoming entangled with this cruel invader that no one really knows how to control.
Well-known Tarifa-based environmental activist Antonio Vegara (known as the ‘Seaweed Master’) has been sharing eerie images on social media showing how this powerful invasive seaweed – likely to have been brought to our seas by leaking out of seawater tanks from Asian ships – is causing a total transformation of our seabed.
We are now facing the decline of native marine life populations, some of which are in danger of extinction, the decline has also been seen at the Biosphere Reserve in the Isla de las Palomas, which I think should be granted special protections. Unfortunately, they do not yet have any.
The competent administrations, of different political colours, have been unable to agree on a plan of action. As of writing this, only private investors, such as the Cepsa Foundation headed by biologist José Carlos García, have formed a plan to and begun to study how to reverse the situation.
Reach Alcance Edition 16