70 tonnes of sea lettuce removed in time for Battle

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Workers from the Infrastructure Department used a modified Surf Rake machine and a tractor to collect the material before putting it onto the Normandy Trader which had been deliberately beached.

The vessel, which is normally used to take locally-grown oysters to France, then travelled to a designated dumping area called the Foul Ground – used to get rid of silt, seaweed and other organic marine material.

Steve Bailey, group operations manager for the Jersey Oyster Company, which owns the Normandy Trader, said that St Aubin’s Bay was now looking considerably better.

The work was carried out partly due to today’s Battle of Flowers parade but mainly to take advantage of neap tides which had stopped sea lettuce being washed up to the top section of the beach at First Tower.

‘We took about 70 tonnes onboard and shipped it out to an agreed offshore area called the Foul Grounds where we put it back in the sea and it spread itself out. There is no question that the beach looks better now,’ he said.

‘Everything is taken into consideration from where we put the Normandy Trader on the beach, to the tides and wind direction and we are constantly talking to Harbours [Ports of Jersey] while we are doing it.

‘They [the Infrastructure Department] called on us as there had been a build up of sea lettuce on the beach to the extent where they were not able to handle all of it onshore and we just act as part of the mix to keep the problem under control.’

Martin Gautier, director of technical services for the Infrastructure Department, said that a lack of sea lettuce earlier in the year had allowed them to spend money on clearing it now.

‘We do not normally move sea lettuce on neap tides as it often just moves higher up the beach on a bigger tide but there are stones at the top of that area and we are not able to move it without taking them which is against environment regulations,’ he said. ‘We have had quite a good year in terms of sea lettuce so far, so our budget allowed us to move it and, given that, I think it would have been wrong for us not do anything.’

Mr Gautier added that today’s parade had partly been a factor in deciding to clear the sea lettuce but large spring tides were likely to stop it stagnating and rotting on the beach.

‘It is looking significantly better there today, especially the West Park area which is looking a lot cleaner,’ he said.

‘There are some big spring tides this weekend and we will take a view on Monday as to whether those have taken the sea lettuce away or if they have brought it back with a vengeance.’

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