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Sea lettuce: experts say more research needed

29 October 2014

More research must be done into the factors that cause sea lettuce to appear in St Aubin's Bay before money is spent trying to solve the problem, Islanders have been told.

Experts in water quality and ecology strategy, who are investigating Jersey's sea lettuce, yesterday (Tuesday 28 October) updated politicians and other interested groups on the research so far conducted. The results could influence whether the design of Jersey's new sewage treatment works (STW) is amended in an effort to reduce the levels of sea lettuce.

Contributory factors to sea lettuce

Consultant Dr Kieran Conlan of Cascade Consulting told the meeting that the interaction between factors that caused the production of sea lettuce - such as sunlight, temperature and nutrients - was not fully understood and further investigation was required before additional processes were added to the new STW at significant cost.

The research has been commissioned by Transport and Technical Services (TTS) in association with the Department of the Environment.

Director of Waste Strategy for TTS, Steve Fisher, said “We were keen for people to know about the work that has been going on behind the scenes. We are working jointly with the Department of the Environment to develop a research study to provide sound evidence to generate a long term plan."

Not just a Jersey phenomenon

Dr Conlan explained that sea lettuce was not just a Jersey phenomenon, and some places such as France and Southern Ireland had considerably higher levels than Jersey. Generally, other countries just left the seaweed on the beach and there was no solution to the sea lettuce problem that could be easily transferred to Jersey, he said.

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