2 U.S. Catamarans detained for damage to coral reef
We reported on Wednesday that another vessel had damaged the reef. News Five has now confirmed that in fact, two foreign vessels sailing around San Pedro Ambergris Caye were moored for several days near delicate patches of the reef. This prompted the Chairman of the San Pedro Tour Guide Association, Billy Leslie, to investigate. He found damaged corals that were caused by the catamarans, Dreamer and Imagine. Leslie, who is also a passionate environmentalist, on Wednesday assisted several Government departments, including the Belize Port Authority, out to the site.
Billy Leslie, Chairman, San Pedro Tour Guide Ass.
“Apparently, the vessel has been touring around Belize. I am not 100% sure, but I don’t think it has the proper papers to be conducting tours around our waters and I received a call from the dive shop at Costa Maya, which is right in front of Mexico Rocks, which is one of our most used site, which is not a marine reserve. But there is a vessel that’s been parked there for days and apparently they have broken one of our newly installed moorings. So we took a contingency out there with members from the marine reserve, which are Fisheries officers and two policemen from the Belize Tourism Police Unit. And upon searching the area, we met two vessels tied together, who had been tied to a mooring which was designed for small boats. Inspecting the area, we found that the vessel had damaged various portions of our very delicate Mexico Rocks area, a very light site. In speaking to the captain, he said that he had had damage in Honduras, but when searching the area we found the remnants of his keel to prove that, yes, it was his boat that damaged the area.”
Russell Lainfiesta, Port State Officer, Belize Port Authority
“There are two vessels that were moored together—that were rafted together and moored on a buoy north of San Pedro. The name of these vessels are Dreamer and Imagine. Both vessels are documented and registered with the United States Coastguard.”
What are the sizes—what size vessels are we looking at?”
“Dreamer in length is 46 ft., in width 24.5 ft. and carries a draft of 3.5 ft. The vessel Imagine is the same size length and breadth.”
“What is the extent of the damage at the reef?”
“The extent of the damage has not been determined as yet. The Department of the Environment will do their assessment. They already went to the location, measured the area in which damages occurred and the estimated area was 27 square metres, un-continuously, meaning that it’s not the reef all along the 27 square metres; patches there, patches here and patches 39 knots—between 39 and 45 knots—and due to that storm, from interviews with both masters of the vessels, the moor from the buoy let go, which caused the vessels to drift and come upon the coral patches. Both vessels have been detained today officially by the Belize Port Authority pending further inquiry into the situation.”
The catamarans will remain in the custody of the Port Authority until the actual cause of the incident is determined. The captains of the Dreamer and Imagine are United States citizens, but they have not been charged since the investigation is not yet completed.
News 5 Online