Pollution Alert for French Caribbean Islands

It’s that time of year when many yachts are making their way towards the Caribbean islands for the winter season. With the majority of the islands providing a picturesque escape away from the polluted waters surrounding big cities, the islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe, known in France as the ‘Antilles’, are suffering from a pollution crisis which poses a health risk to locals and crew based in the island’s ports.

According to a report published by the BBC, the islands have high levels of Chlordecone pollution - a pesticide linked to cancer. Chlordecone was used on the islands for many years to spray banana crops and, since being banned in 1993, traces of it can now be found in the blood of the majority of adults living there.

Drinking water - is it safe?
Drinking water on the islands is considered safe, because carbon filters are used to remove contaminants, however, yacht crew drinking water that’s been filtered by their boat’s watermaker should check that their filtration system removes all traces of pollution.

Fresh produce
Due to the large amount of fresh fruit and vegetables which is sold at small, roadside markets, it's been difficult for authorities to prevent pollutants from entering the local food industry. Yacht crew and visitors are advised to try to source goods grown in neighbouring islands. 

According to the BBC, authorities have banned fishing near the coast and in local rivers due to contamination, so yacht crew should steer clear of purchasing any fish that has been sourced locally.

To find out more about the Chlordecone pollution crisis, read the full BBC report.