OCEANA BELIZE SUPPORTS CALLS FROM CAYE CAULKER RESIDENTS TO REMOVE STRANDED VESSEL FROM REEF
Belize has the second largest Barrier Reef in the world, and may be one of the last countries in the world to have extensive areas of pristine reef. Oceana Belize is working to protect this vulnerable but economically important natural resource for the benefit and enjoyment of Belizeans and her future generations. However, such fragile ecosystems are constantly at risk of being damaged from both natural and man-made threats.
Based on repeated requests from residents and media to Oceana Belize regarding a vessel stranding near Caye Caulker, on Thursday, January 29th 2015, Marine Scientist Dr. Isani Chan led an expedition with Oceana’s Videographer Alexander Ellis and Project Assistant Alain Alexis to the site of the incident to conduct an assessment of the damage.
Dr. Chan reports the following:
1. The steel hull sailboat measures approximately 35’ in length.
2. The vessel sits in approximately 5’ of water in low tide.
3. While the sailboat is currently lodged on coral “rubble”, increased wave action could push the vessel into living coral.
4. Residents of the island report that the incident occurred on December 31st 2014.
5. Subsequent efforts for an independent contractor to safely remove the vessel (without causing further damage) from the site have so far proved unsuccessful.
For these reasons, Oceana Belize supports the recommendation that the vessel be removed as soon as possible to avoid any further degradation to the site.
This assessment is independent from any other investigation being carried out by any relevant government agencies.
The vessel has been inspected by an independent contractor who can lift the vessel from the sea floor and remove the sailboat from the area. That method will reportedly cost approximately $70K dollars. Precedence indicates the vessel's owner should bear costs associated with removing the sailboat. However, the sailboat is still at the site more than a month after the accident took place.
Stranded steel hull sailboat threatens to destroy living reef if not removed from the site.
According to residents of Caye Caulker, the sailboat ran aground on December 31st 2014.