Open Issue V3I2 - McConney & Oxenford | Journal of CESaRE
The Journal of Caribbean Environmental Sciences and Renewable Energy (CESaRE) was developed in 2016 out of a recognized need to modernize and revolutionize the Caribbean's scientific research publishing. There are over 170 Caribbean research publications in the past 5 years falling under the broad field of environmental sciences, found scattered over a large variety of International journals, without a central (Caribbean) location to collate this knowledge. With the global shift towards renewable over traditional energy sources, together with a rise in environmental consciousness, this a perfect opportunity for highlighting such research conducted in the Caribbean. CESaRE will provide a suitable forum to encourage research into renewable energy, as well as the environmental sciences. CESaRE promises to be more than just a collection of articles, but also a forum to disseminate information and bridge the gap between research and implementation, from which Caribbean leaders, relevant industry partners, and authorities can use our Journal for more effective decision making and environmental management.
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Caribbean sargassum phenomenon: complexities of communicating

Patrick McConney and Hazel A. Oxenford

Centre for Resource Management and Environmental Sciences (CERMES)
University of the West Indies, Cave Hill, Barbados

 

Vol. 3, Issue 2, 2020.     DOI:  10.33277/cesare/003.002/02

 

ABSTRACT

In 2011 unprecedented massive influxes of pelagic sargassum seaweed took the Caribbean completely by surprise. The floating sargassum disrupted fishing operations, impacted fish catches, and caused significant hardship to fisherfolk. Stranded sargassum covered beaches and the rotting weed produced pungent smells threatening tourism and invoking difficult and expensive coastal clean-ups. Several years later the Caribbean is still struggling to come to terms with how to manage this new and continuing threat, which is also potentially a huge source of raw material for innovation and entrepreneurship opportunities. Communication has been a key element in this struggle to respond and adapt to sargassum. Exchanging information among a broad range of government, civil society, private sector, academic and other stakeholders has been an ongoing challenge. Mobilising knowledge has been key from the start, and science communication remains a cross-cutting and very transdisciplinary process. We examine some of the lessons learned from the communication associated with sargassum influxes since 2011. There is no clear science-policy interface for decision-making on sargassum. Uncertainties surrounding sargassum ecology, oceanography, biochemistry, economics, medical and social science all test the status and communication of science among Caribbean stakeholders. The drivers of information sharing, the credibility of both popular and scientific sources, their reach to diverse audiences through networks, and several other factors combine to determine information flows.

KEYWORDS

Sargassum, Knowledge Uncertainty, Science, Policy, Information

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Sargassum is an ever-increasing issue in the Caribbean with many coastlines grappling to handle the surges tourist repelling blooms. Yet, there is a lot of value in Sargassum, and though research may have catching up to do, many labs across the Caribbean are coming together for evidence-based solutions. McConney and Oxenford’s paper specifically addresses the complexities in communicating these issues around Sargassum.

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