The National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) says several of the country’s beaches in St. Mary, Portland, St. Thomas, and St Catherine are currently being heavily impacted by an influx of Sargassum.

Sargassum is a brown free-floating seaweed which is customarily not harmful and its movements depend solely on ocean currents.

Found only in the Atlantic Ocean, it provides refuge for migratory species, serves as essential habitat for several species of fish and invertebrates.

NEPA says the use of heavy compacting equipment on the beach is not recommended.

Additionally, it says persons removing Sargasssum should take special care to minimize the amount of sand that is removed during any carefully planned clean-up activities.

All organic material should be disposed of at an appropriate off-site location or buried on the beach where practical.

The Agency further advises beach operators that should the need arise for the use of heavy equipment such as tractors and front-end loaders to remove Sargassum and other accumulated debris, the operators should seek the Agency’s permission before carrying out the activity.