SUR

Estepona calls on central government to help with invasive seaweed problem on the Costa del Sol

The mayor claims that 20 tonnes of Rugulopteryx okamurae are removed the town's beaches every day

DAVID LERMA

Estepona town hall has called on the central government for a state plan to address the problem of an invasive seaweed which is plaguing beaches on the Costa del Sol. The municipal authority says it is removing 20 tonnes of the washed-up plant every day from its beaches.

The seaweed, Rugulopteryx okamurae, has been a problem since 2019 after being first reported in Ceuta when it arrived in the water tanks of Chinese and Japanese cargo ships.

Last month 2,200 tonnes of the plant had to be removed from Mijas Costa beaches.

José María García Urbano, Mayor of Estepona, said: "the town councils are not going to be able to eradicate this problem with our own resources. We need state aid".

Urbano said that the invasive plant has not only become a threat to the image and tourism in Estepona, but also represents an additional cost due to the technical and economic costs involved in its removal, estimated at one million euros. Urbano said he is concerned about the damage it is doing to the “strategic” tourism sector on the Costa del Sol.

Nora Cámara, a marine biologist, says the presence of the seaweed is due to a number of factors. She cited eutrophication (an excess of nutrients), overfishing, the increased population on the Costa del Sol, and the ongoing warming of the seawater.