Carvoeiro algae
Photos: Beatriz Maio/Open Media

Will Carvoeiro algae wash away in time for Black & White party?

Local council admits solution is “temporary”

Lagoa Council is in a race against time to remove a huge amount of seaweed from Carvoeiro beach before the town’s famous Black & White Night party on Saturday (June 17).

The works started on Tuesday at around 8.30am and will continue until the beach is considered ‘clean’, local councillor Mário Guerreiro told us.

“We are trying to return the seaweed to the sea, taking advantage of the ‘nortada’ (northern winds) which are expected,” he said, adding that he realises this is a “temporary solution”.


Will Carvoeiro algae wash away in time for Black & White party?

“There was no other alternative. This was the only solution to have the beach ready in time for the party,” said Mário Guerreiro, who is in charge of Tourism, Beaches, Coast and Machinery and Vehicles at the council.

He added that the Rugulopterix okamurae algae (the invasive species which has been causing issues at Algarve beaches in recent years) started accumulating on the beach on Sunday, although council services had to wait until the tides “stabilised” in order to start the removal efforts.

Meanwhile, the council is “very worried” that seaweed ‘invasions’ may occur several times this summer, which would represent considerable costs for the local authority.

As Lagoa Mayor Luís Encarnação explains, “this is not a sustainable solution,” as he has been told by specialists from the University of the Algarve’s Sea Science Centre (CCMar) and the University of Seville.


Will Carvoeiro algae wash away in time for Black & White party?

“This is not a definitive solution and we are aware that it is not ideal, but we have no other solution. It is a new problem and we don’t know how to deal with it yet,” the mayor admitted.

He added that the council is “carrying out an experiment to see if, by returning the seaweed to the sea, nature will solve the problem” through the tides.

“There are 15 other beaches in the municipality of Lagoa where we will not be able to remove the seaweed, as they are impossible to reach with machinery,” Encarnação added.

The “urgent and temporary” works to return the seaweed to the sea have cost €1,700 (plus VAT), “a very different cost from the intervention carried out in 2022,” which involved physically removing the seaweed from the beach.

Encarnação added that the cost of fully cleaning a beach is around €50,000 and requires “a public tender because the council does not have its own means to carry out the service.”

The mayor added: “In 2022, we wrote a report that was delivered to the Ministry of Environment, and alerted all Algarve entities with a responsibility in the matter because this is a problem that affects tourism and the regional. In the end, this is also a national problem, given the contribution of Algarve tourism to the national GDP.”

Locals doubt council’s solution will work

Locals are far from confident about the effectiveness of the council’s efforts to clean the beach, given the strong smell emanating from the seaweed which they fear will only worsen.

This is like sweeping rubbish under the rug,” a local shop owner said, adding that it is “too much seaweed to simply try to return it to the sea.”

The consensus in the town seems to be that the works “do not make much sense,” as the seaweed will only end up washing up at the beach again.

Some believe that the council does not want to pay for the same expensive works it carried out last year, when it paid around €25,000 to remove around 400 tonnes of seaweed.

The line of seaweed this year measures around 1.20m, while last year it reached two metres.

Councillor Mário Guerreiro said the council will not rule out carrying out the same works as last year if Carvoeiro is once again affected by this seaweed ‘invasion’.

Original article written by Beatriz Maio for Barlavento newspaper.