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Public Service Officers being trained to use drones to map Sargassum seaweed

Officers from across the Public Service are attending a workshop on commercial drone policies this week as part of a UK Government funded Darwin Plus Project titled, 'Sustainable Sargassum Management'. Photo: GIS
The one-week course is teaching the various trainees not only to fly drones, but to operate on a commercial and professional level which involves a lot more safety procedures and operations. Photo: VINO
The one-week course is teaching the various trainees not only to fly drones, but to operate on a commercial and professional level which involves a lot more safety procedures and operations. Photo: VINO
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI- Officers from across the Public Service are attending a workshop on commercial drone policies this week as part of a UK Government funded Darwin Plus Project titled, “Sustainable Sargassum Management”.

The Government of Virgin Islands through the Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour has been engaged since 2021 in the project led by the Caribbean Natural Resources Institute (CANARI). The project is also underway in Anguilla and Montserrat.

According to a Government Information Services (GIS) press release today, September 27, 2022, Dr Kimberly Baldwin of Marine Spatial Information Solutions is leading the workshop and stated that she was grateful for the opportunity to build capacity in the Territory.

Drones to map & monitor Sargassum seaweed

Dr Baldwin said, “This is a one-week course in which I am teaching the various trainees not only to fly drones, but to operate on a commercial and professional level which involves a lot more safety procedures and operations.”

“We are going to be using drone mapping and monitoring software for the environment so that we can conduct flight surveys of the environment and create 3D maps and models,” Dr. Baldwin stated, adding, “The focus of this project is using that information that we are going to gather to inform decisions for the management for the Sargassum Seaweed, which is a problem all over the Caribbean as well as it is here in the Virgin Islands.”

The Sustainable Sargassum Management project will focus on implementing participatory and multi-level approaches to manage Sargassum influxes to protect and enhance coastal and marine biodiversity and associated livelihoods. Key activities will include improving research, monitoring and early warnings of influxes to inform decision-making; strengthening multi-stakeholder engagement; and building the capacity of coastal and marine managers and users for Sargassum use, removal and rehabilitation of affected areas.

“We have to do our best to mitigate' effects- Mervin D. Hastings

Acting Deputy Secretary in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour Mr Mervin D. Hastings endorsed the workshop and spoke on its significance.

“Sargassum Seaweed influxes has been an occurrence in the Territory for quite some time now,” Mr Hastings said. “We have to do our best to mitigate how it affects our coastlines and find the best uses for it so that best practices and sustainable by-products can be garnered from this seaweed that we encounter yearly,” he further stated.

Participants to the workshop include officers from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour, the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Town and Country Planning Department, Hamilton Lavity Stoutt Community College (HLSCC), the National Parks Trust of the Virgin Islands (NPTVI) and the Association of Reef Keepers (ARK).

14 Responses to “Public Service Officers being trained to use drones to map Sargassum seaweed”

  • Whelk (27/09/2022, 13:33) Like (14) Dislike (0) Reply
    How the hell is this a priority for Government with all that is going on?! I swear to go the people running this show are out of their collective minds! Mapping it - who cares? You can't stop it, and when it comes, we all know where it ends up! Set of time-wasting fools! Wind and current takes this weed, and you already have records for both!

    I bet the drones costs a lot of money too! Probably lose most of them in the sea.

    Priorities are all messed up here!

  • rubber duck (27/09/2022, 13:51) Like (9) Dislike (0) Reply
    This is better done in the private sector
  • Native Senior Citizen of the British Virgin Islands (27/09/2022, 13:52) Like (4) Dislike (1) Reply
    Thank you, but what about large net to surround sagassum sea weeds, and barges to collect some of them before reach the shore, and contaminate both beaches, and mariners harbours and other important shore areas. Drones mapping, and monitoring for this needed purpose surely is a good, and welcome idea, but to dramatically reduce this ongoing problem, if we can afford to at this time, is the greater good.
  • training (27/09/2022, 14:34) Like (8) Dislike (0) Reply
    Training is needed to use the machine we bought to clear up the Sargassum, or has that been bought and immediately written off without any use?
  • Great. (27/09/2022, 17:16) Like (11) Dislike (0) Reply
    They need slot of training in a lot of things, most importantly "Customer Service". Can't get the phone answer when you call the switch board, cant get proper and Pleasantry attention when you visit the offices it's like them don't care. Don't even think they understand what customer service is. They like most depts work for the 15th and the 30th...I will say it for the 19tg time a complete Britain take over is what is needed to put things in order, no local politician can do it..
  • VG Resident (27/09/2022, 19:14) Like (4) Dislike (0) Reply
    Fine to map the seaweed, but that does not get rid of it. I bought a tractor and a seaweed removal machine that collect the seaweed from the beaches and allow for clean beaches. It is working very well and doing what is needed.
    • c (27/09/2022, 22:21) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
      Now ya talking. You already know where it’s going so you are ready.
      • VG Resident (28/09/2022, 09:32) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
        The machine will collect and remove seaweed from 9 acres of beach per day. I have been using it for about 6 months now. Go out about every week or so and collect what has washed up. It is a large machine and we pull it and power it from a John Deere 4 wheel drive tractor.
  • Satellites (27/09/2022, 20:38) Like (4) Dislike (0) Reply
    have been tracking this annoying seaweed since 2013 and providing the results on the internet. There are more important issues that need attention in the BVI then flying drones over rafts of seaweed.
  • Really??? (28/09/2022, 10:11) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply
    A blind man could tell you where this stuff is. You don't need a drone. Just do something tangible to remove it from the beaches and the ports.
  • Sammy (28/09/2022, 13:18) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply

    What a fr!ck!n joke !!! Total waste of time and money.

  • Drones (28/09/2022, 13:53) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    After they’ve spotted the sargassum, what happens next, they wait for it to still reach our shores? Each and everyone of those drones will end up in the sea with the sargassum! What a cross! Spend funds on training to support better customer service in the different government depts.
  • GOOD PRACTICE (28/09/2022, 18:48) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    After becoming efficient at tracking seaweed they will begin to track all movement on the waters with drones. Seaweed is just an excuse to snake it in.
  • WEW (29/09/2022, 12:02) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    Drones, a new way to move your drugs. If only the head coach had thought of this


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