Please visit this page often for news & updates on the barrier project, real-time satellite tracking of the sargassum headed our way, links to project resources and general press & scientific articles about sargassum.
News & Announcements
The last few months have been busy ones for the HMB Sargassum Project team and on November 15 we took an historic step across the line from the planning stage into project implementation. In other words, we have signed a contract and put down an initial deposit with barrier manufacturer, Okeanis!!
Here is a summary of key events leading up to this historic moment as well some future milestones to watch for:
Semarnat reviews our page installation proposal and gives the barrier project the green light to proceed. Jose Juan Dominguez, head of the CONAMP office in Quintana Roo hails our proposal as one of the best researched and environmentally sound proposals he has ever seen.
With almost $400k in the bank, our fundraising campaign surpasses a key milestone.
We have more than enough funding on hand to cover the entire cost of manufacturing, shipping and installing a sargassum barrier outside the reef in Half Moon Bay.
Work got underway on final language for the barrier purchase contract as well as a separate document on shipping arrangements. Arrangements also continued apace on obtaining an RFC number for EPA (Ecoproteccion Akumal), the Mexican company formed to sign contracts on behalf of the residents who have donated. And, in the meanwhile, an existing Mexican non-profit was engaged to assist with tax-deductible donations made in pesos. Our attorneys also began developing contract templates for additional barrier maintenance services. All this legal work continues behind the scenes, in order to protect our investment and the integrity of the entire project.
October brought critical onsite visits with a variety of project partners. Without the face-to-face meetings and hands-on surveying, we would not have been able to finalize the contract in time for delivery:
An Okeanis rep visited North Akumal on 10/3/22 to conduct a site survey, meet with the maintenance team and to finalize installation plans. It was decided to perform a thorough survey of the seafloor to determine the optimum locations for the barrier anchors. This includes doing the bathymetry (depth soundings) for the proposed barrier path.
Installation and Operating Services
Gestoria Nautica has also visited the site and will begin testing anchor installation and placement during the last week of November. A decision was made to use drones and diver propulsion devices (underwater scooters) to reduce the time and expense involved in installation, monitoring and maintenance. The barrier operating budget will remain unchanged, however, until we have sufficient hands-on experience to better project actual monthly expenses.
An environmental expert participated in the site visit and is now preparing a detailed budget and project proposal for monitoring the impact the barrier may have on marine life, including turtle hatchlings and how the barrier might change accumulations of sargassum on the southern headlands. Watch your Inbox for details on the staff and equipment that will be required to fully implement an effective monitoring program and to find out how YOU can support this important environmental project
Now that we’ve raised the full amount required to install the barrier, 100% of all new donations go toward environmental protection and monitoring. Please consider protecting our beloved Half Moon Bay with a tax deductible donation to help us meet our Sustainable Financing goals:
It takes a village – Akumal Norte – to protect our beaches, our residents, staff and guests, and our turtles! Please be a part of the solution by sending in a donation.
On November 15, we signed a contract and paid an initial deposit to barrier manufacturer, Okeanis. We invested over 60 man-hours in finalizing the contract to get the best terms possible to protect your money and make sure the barrier arrives on time and as ordered. Okeanis is a reputable commercial provider who has already provided barriers for other resorts along the Riviera Maya, including Vidanta and Paradisus. Manufacturing is already underway and will take 60-75 days. The estimated transportation time from the factory in Bulgaria to the Progreso port in Mexico is between 40 and 60 days.
Engineering & Testing
You may notice some barrier related activity in and around Half Moon Bay this month:
New bathymetric studies have been conducted to cover a wider area on either side of the recently adjusted installation path.
A team of divers has been engaged to install the first 10 rod anchors and to test a number of cost saving procedures for both installing and operating the barrier starting at the end of this month. Beginning this process now will allow us to streamline and perfect the procedures before the full installation of the rest of the anchors in January (total of 60), and before the barrier arrives, saving us time and money.
A technical team is getting trained in the use and maintenance of specialized equipment such as drones and underwater scooters that will be deployed to cut time and maintenance expenses
Materials and equipment are being identified and procured from the most economical sources possible, some from the US, some locally sourced. We are working on ways to make inspecting the barrier easier and less expensive, including using drone equipment for easy visual inspection of the barrier.
Our service provider, Gestion Nautica, will complete the installation of 60 rod anchors by the end of January.
Barrier Installation Begins!
Allowing for customs and transport to Akumal (and barring any unforeseen circumstances) we project that installation of the net barrier and flotation system will begin in mid-April.
As of September 15, 2022 the HMB Sargassum Project had raised nearly $395,000 USD, which represents over 80% of the project budget and is more than enough to cover the cost of purchasing and installing a sargassum barrier. All donations made after this date are earmarked for monitoring and mitigating any possible environmental impacts of the project.
We've constituted a Mexican corporation called EcoProteccion Akumal (EPA) to sign contracts, hire staff and otherwise manage the HMB Sargassum Project according to the Project Timeline published here. EPA plans to sign a barrier purchase agreement in early October and supervise barrier installation in March of 2023. EPA has also established an $80,000 USD line of credit to ensure the entire project budget is fully funded prior to the conclusion of our fundraising campaign.
Last year EPA hired a top lawyer to take the lead with a critical step on our timeline: seeking project approval from SEMARNAT. After significant bureaucratic delays caused by the pandemic, we got their official "aviso" giving us the green light to proceed with the project.
The US based Yucatán Environmental Foundation (YEF) has certified the charitable status of the project so that all US donors can take a charitable deduction on their taxes. All donors receive an official receipt from YEF within 10 business days of their donation.
Okeanis is the manufacturer that EPA has selected to provide our barrier. Okeanis is asking for a five month lead time between the date we place the order and the date the barrier gets installed. In other words, we should place the order by October 15, 2022 if we want the barrier fully operational by March of 2023 when the sargassum season is predicted to begin.
Our sponsor, Turtle Bay Cafe, has offered to assist in arranging an off-season storage facility for the barrier
Real-time Tracking & Projections
Causes of Sargasso Blooms