Sargassum seaweed continues to plague Tobago fishermen


Sargassum off the Scarbrough harbour on Sunday. (Image: VINDRA GOPAUL)

Tobago fishermen continue to battle the Sargassum seaweed infestation, which continues to plague the Caribbean region.

Speaking with Guardian Media on Sunday, veteran fisherman Arthur Stewart, who operates out of Scarborough, said the problem was not only a coastal one.

Stewart, who has been fishing since he was in primary school in the 1950s, recalled running away from school to fish with a bamboo rod in his youth.

A fisherman uses a line to catch fish on Sunday at Scarborough. (Image: VINDRA GOPAUL)

He told Guardian Media that fisherman who set fish pots are affected by the seaweed, since the sargassum can drag away the fishing buoys or cause them to sink. He said fishermen who troll for fish also run into heavy problems when the seaweed becomes tangled up with their lines.

Fishermen getting ready on Sunday to go out to sea. (Image: VINDRA GOPAUL)

Trolling is a method of fishing where one or more fishing lines, baited with lures or bait fish, are drawn through the water. This may be behind a moving boat, or by slowly winding the line in when fishing from a static position, or even sweeping the line from side-to-side.  Trolling is used to catch fish such as salmon, mackerel and kingfish.

Trolling can be phonetically confused with trawling, a different method of fishing where a net is drawn through the water instead of lines. Trolling is used both for recreational and commercial fishing, whereas trawling is used mainly for commercial fishing.

Fishermen getting ready on Sunday to go out to sea. (Image: VINDRA GOPAUL)

The seaweed can also cause problems for fishermen who do not use a jetty and are anchored on the beach, since they find it extremely difficult to dock and anchor their boats.

Few people harvest the seaweed for agricultural use.  The seaweed is usually buried in an open trench for a month and lightly covered with soil so it can rot, before being blended with agricultural soil.

Fishermen getting ready on Sunday to go out to sea. (Image: VINDRA GOPAUL)