Vessel Removed 4 Days After It Ran Aground on Reef
Four days after a catamaran with tourists ran aground on the reef in the coral garden area, north of Caye Caulker Village, the vessel is finally removed. Today, Coral Tours Belize Limited were successfully able to remove its thirty-two feet double hull catamaran from the reef after it grounded on the reef on Friday evening with eight tourists onboard. Even though the Belize Coastguard responded to the scene, the tourists had already been rescued. Since Saturday, the Department of Environment and personnel from the Fisheries Department have been in San Pedro and the scene to investigate what transpired as well as to assess the damages to the reef. After an initial size up and an assessment of the scene, Environmental Officer Kenrick Gordon says that five different species of corals are damaged, two of which are on the endangered list.
On the Phone: Kenrick Gordon, Environmental Officer, D.O.E.
“In the first instance we gave the owner of the vessel the first option to remove the vessel. We have been out there for the past three days and today, he finally took the vessel off the reef and we did a damage assessment. On Saturday we did a preliminary assessment to look if there was in fact any damage and yesterday we did an assessment to determine the health and the state of the patch reef that they ran aground. Today we did an assessment. We haven’t determined the total financial cost as implicated by the damages done to the coral, but I could say that there were about five different types of species that were damaged; two of which are on the endangered species list, IECN. The impact scene was approximately thirty feet by five feet at the widest point and I would say about twenty to twenty-five percent of that was live coral and in there you would find the different species.”
Who Will Be Charged for Damage to Reef?
The vessel is a catamaran that carries out tours within Belize. While it is a Belizean registered company, it is owned by a Colombian national, and the vessel is captained by a local Belizean. The estimated cost of the damage is yet to be determined and Kenrick Gordon says that both the captain and the company can be charged for the incident.
Kenrick Gordon, Environmental Officer, D.O.E.
“I wouldn’t want to get into the details because we are still conducting investigation in terms of the circumstances surrounding the incident and how we are going to proceed from here.”
“Now the charges will be for the captain of the boat or the company itself?”
“Well in instances like this, under the environmental protection act, jurisdiction offense—if charges are going to be levied, but like I said, we are still conducting investigation—but we are possibly find both the captain, but we would more look at the company as the responsible party.”