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Riviera Maya Resorts Announce New Ambitious Sargassum Plan

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As sargassum levels continue to rise at a record level this year, resorts in the Riviera Maya have announced a new bold plan to deal with the foul-smelling seaweed. 

A small beach in the Riviera Maya with blue water

Despite a brief respite this week in sargassum levels, environmental experts predict 2023 will be one of the worst years on record for the Mexican Caribbean in terms of seaweed.

With growing concern over how sargassum could affect travel, resorts in the Riviera Maya are looking for promising new methods to deal with sargassum seaweed. 

A large amount of sargassum on the coastline in Cancun

Riviera Maya Planning New High-Tech Sargassum Strategy

The Riviera Maya, a popular resort region south of Cancun, is typically one of the hardest-hit areas in the Mexican Caribbean when it comes to sargassum. 

Ocean currents and certain geographical features cause massive amounts of the macroalgae to wash up on its shores each year.

With long-term forecasts predicting even more of the smelly seaweed this year, officials and businesses in the area are preparing for a worst-case scenario.

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Sargassum barrier to block sargassum near Cancun

This week, a group of leading Riviera Maya resorts announced an ambitious new plan to – hopefully – prevent sargassum from tarnishing beautiful white-sand beaches for good.

The $100 million project would be one of the largest to date, involving several important stakeholders.

The Riviera Maya Hotel Association revealed more details about the two-part plan this week. They noted that if everything goes to plan, the new sargassum project could kick off as early as this year.

Tulum's archeological zone with a beach next to it

According to executives, the anti-sargassum plan would consist mainly of preventive action; more specifically, sargassum would be collected in the ocean well before it washed up on Riviera Maya shores.

“We have a range of resources to fight against sargassum seaweed, and we’ve secured financing for our project from international partners” Antonio Chaves, head of the Riviera Maya Hotel Association said in an interview.

A beautiful small beach in the Riviera Maya

However, due to the fact that the Mexican Caribbean is expecting a record amount of sargassum this year – and most analysts say the problem will only worsen – not all of it can be collected at sea.

The remaining sargassum would be removed from Riviera Maya shores and converted into biofuels. The potentially highly lucrative proposal has already caught the attention of multinationals like Microsoft and Amazon, who are considering taking part in the project.

Analysts say that well over a thousand tons of sargassum could be collected from Riviera Maya beaches thanks to the new cutting-edge plan. Officials have said that a pilot project could already take place in August this year, with the full effects of the program becoming visible in 2024.

Underwater scenery in the Riviera Maya with a sea turtle and divers

Cancun, which is also dealing with its fair share of sargassum-related issues, has also launched a similar initiative this year.

The coastal resort destination has partnered up with a local high-tech firm that is promising to significantly improve the amount of sargassum collected from local beaches.

The Riviera Maya is made up of resort hotspots like Puerto Morelos, Playa del Carmen, and Tulum.

Despite being one of the most popular holiday destinations in the world, sargassum could impact the Riviera Maya’s reputation.

SARGASSUM PATCH in Playal del Carmne with sand

For now, authorities are relying on more traditional methods to clean up sargassum.

Playa del Carmen has installed new collection containers across most of its beaches, while Tulum is deploying up to 100 kilometers of anti-sargassum barriers this April. 

Resorts and city officials in Playa del Carmen and Tulum have also hired more cleaners, who work around the clock to clean popular beaches.

For now, it remains to be seen whether the Riviera Maya will be able to cope with record sargassum levels. 

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