(SNO) – Sustainable Development Minister and Micoud North MP, Dr. Gale Rigobert, believes the people have been too hard on her regarding the sargassum seaweed situation, saying that she has not only been actively seeking a solution, but noted that residents rarely attend public meetings to address the issue.
“So I continue to apologize to my people,” she told reporters last week Tuesday. “I did not call the seaweed. Sometimes when you hear people speak, you get the impression that I asked somebody to come and dump a whole lot of seaweed in Micoud. I did not do that. It’s ‘Mother Nature’. My responsibility, along with my colleagues, is to ensure that we help them solve the problem.”
The seaweed invasion is island-wide but Praslin and Micoud appeared to have been the worst hit in recent times. And Rigobert said satellite images of sargassum approaching St. Lucia indicates that the island is expected to get a lot more seaweed.
Some residents have complained that the government has not been doing enough to help, but Dr. Rigobert said this is not the case. She said many affected residents have failed to turn out at public meetings to hear what the authorities, including herself, are doing.
“We have held meetings with stakeholders, the Ministry of Fisheries, Agriculture and Fisheries, with which we work very closely; has held community meetings, albeit that they were poorly attended and that is why I want to encourage people to attend public meetings. That is where the information is had. That is where the information is being shared,” the minister stressed.
The minister said thousands of dollars have been spent in tackling the problem, but the government’s resources are limited. She adds that she has held meetings with founder of Algas Organics, Yohanan Dujon, whose company processes the seaweed into liquid fertilizer.
“Each time the seaweed comes, we invest $100, 000, and next week, another $100, 000. I don’t know that we have the resources to keep up at that pace, without having a comprehensive fix,” Dr. Rigobert said.
She added: “So after having met with Mr. Dujon, who is working along with IICA (Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture), who is working along with UNDP GEF, who is working along with the …sustainable development and my own parliamentary office, and after having invited from proposals from qualified persons who have expertise in dealing with sargassum, this (would not be last week) Thursday, Prime Minister, Minister for Agriculture, PS for Agriculture and I, and perhaps some other stakeholders, will be combing through the various proposals that we have received with a view to determining which ones are most feasible, pragmatic, and can give us the comprehensive, sustainable fix that we need for this sargassum problem.”