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Machinery collecting algae in Marbella this Easter. Josele
Local councils call on Spain's national government for help as invasive algae threatens the Costa del Sol
Environment

Local councils call on Spain's national government for help as invasive algae threatens the Costa del Sol

Town halls are forced to pay huge amounts of money each year to remove the aquatic plants, which threaten biodiversity and ruin the image of the Andalusian coastline

María Albarral

Marbella

Monday, 1 April 2024, 07:03

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An increasing presence of an invasive algae on Costa del Sol beaches has local councils concerned and calling on Spain's national government for help.

The situation with the algae (Rugulopteryx okamurae) is becoming increasingly worrying with town halls forced to provide their own resources to combat the problem, but it is very expensive.

In Marbella alone, so far this year, the council has invested more than 800,000 euros to remove 75 tonnes of the algae from the beaches every day. "This worrying situation is causing clear damage to the fishing, tourism and environmental sectors and is causing us great economic, technical and material efforts to the council to maintain the coastline," said councillor Diego López. He criticised the Spanish government that "no strategic action is being carried out and no practical solutions are being offered to the councils".

The invasive algae is especially affecting the beaches of San Pedro Alcántara, Puerto Banús, Fontanilla and Cabopino, where the aquatic plants can exceed one metre in height. These plant remains, which are present in all coastal municipalities along the Andalusian coastline, became part of the list of species of concern for the European Union in 2022.

Estepona concerns

The same concern is shared in Estepona. Mayor José María García Urbano has on several occasions asked the central government for "a national aid plan for the coastal municipalities affected, as the proliferation of this algae has a negative impact on both the tourist and fishing sectors, and it is the town councils that have to make their own resources available to alleviate the effects of this situation".

In the case of Estepona, it costs more than one million euros to remove the algae from their coastline. During the past year the town hall collected a total of 3,415 tonnes of seaweed, with the highest figure reached in 2022, when 5,331 tonnes had to be removed from beaches.

Mijas and Benalmádena affected

Mijas is another of the municipalities affected by the massive arrival of the invasive algae. "We share the concern with the rest of the town councils because it means an extra effort in the department as well as a cost. In 2023 alone we collected 4,000 tonnes and invested 380,000 euros," said councillor Daniel Gómez.

The storm over the past few days has caused algae to invade municipalities that have not been so affected in recent years. This is the case of Benalmádena. According to figures provided by the council, it is estimated that this week alone they will need to collect about three trailers full in Playa Bonita and two between all the urban beaches, which would add up to a total of 70 tonnes.

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