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Update on boat that damaged reef.

Posted By: collyk

Update on boat that damaged reef. - 04/18/09 02:38 PM

http://channel5belize.com/#a11

Mexican Billionaire, Ricardo Salinas Pliego, whose luxury yacht anchored on the reef on April seventh, has been ordered to pay the price. According to information reaching News Five, the damage tallied up to the tune of eight hundred thousand U.S. dollars, which Salinas Pliego committed to pay on Holy Thursday before he sailed away. But the Easter holiday came along and the payment was postponed to this week. When contacted by phone today, Chief Environmental Officer, Martin Alegria, who is currently on vacation, told us that Salinas Pliego was expected to make payment at the Central Bank either on Thursday or today. But up to news time, no one can confirm if he has paid up. The Department of the Environment determined the amount of the fine based on the damaged area of the coral reef which measured twenty-five by forty-five meters. Salinas Pliego was reportedly supplied with that information, accepted liability and agreed to make payment.

The Mexican billionaire was never actually arrested. He and his family remained on the yacht but the captain, forty-nine year old Salvador Villeras Eckart of Cancun, Mexico was detained. And as to why the ship anchored on the reef in the first place, Villeras Eckart has stated that the vessel was drifting towards the reef after a rope tangled in the propeller, causing it to shut down. He says that he had to drop anchor to avoid running aground. Salinas Pliego owns the Mexican television station, Azteca and the chain off appliance stores, Electra.
Posted By: bywarren

Re: Update on boat that damaged reef. - 04/18/09 03:06 PM

I am curious how they came up with the $800,000 figure. And if and when it is paid, where does that money go?

It is interesting in light of the current discussion on dredging, how the goverment puts a value on the damage done to the reef by the yacht, but seems unconcerned about the dredging.

One can only assume that they, the goverment and elected officials, are either ignorent of the consequences of dredging or find it opportunistic to cash in on someone elses mistakes.
Posted By: Barnacle

Re: Update on boat that damaged reef. - 04/18/09 03:19 PM

or both,,,
Posted By: sweetjane

Re: Update on boat that damaged reef. - 04/18/09 03:24 PM

by -

when bruce reads things such as this in the AC papers, he politely refers to them as 'the inexplicable inconsistencies and mysteries of belize'.

i, for one, would be interested to hear if that fine ever does get paid. thanks for posting the update, colly.
Posted By: Otteralum

Re: Update on boat that damaged reef. - 04/18/09 04:08 PM

Bailout money for BEL
Posted By: skippy

Re: Update on boat that damaged reef. - 04/18/09 04:28 PM

In a sense, it seems positive. I'm initially surprised at the amount of the fine, and hope it does indeed get paid. It might take something like this, an actual large monetary fine, to get those inclined to damage or shrug off damage to the reef to realize it's a very big deal after all. Next time, make it $8 million. US.

On the dredging, no clue other than it's likely tied to economic development in the eyes of some in the gov. They know it's damaging, but seem to feel it's worth it for the development that occurs. I don't agree, but that's my guess as to their way of looking at it.
Posted By: bywarren

Re: Update on boat that damaged reef. - 04/18/09 05:02 PM

I am impressed how swiftly Belize was able to investigate the circumstances causing this and determine that the captain was at fault and then determine the monentary damage caused.

In a less developed country this type of investigation would take much longer. But we all know Belize operates on "Belize Time". frown
Posted By: Sally1

Re: Update on boat that damaged reef. - 04/18/09 05:12 PM

Don't get this wrong, I am very into protecting the reef. That reef is the main reason we bought on AC. I am printing out the ACCSD membership form as I type this reply.

First, how does a developer get construction materials to a job site that doesn't have roads except on a barge? I assume that the dredging up north, or anywhere, is needed for that reason- to make the channel deep enough to accomodate the barge. Is this a correct assumption or is there another way of moving material to a job site? If it's a necessity, is there a way to do it that is less damaging to the reef? It's the sediment from the dredging that settles on the reef that is the damage we are talking about here, right?

I am ignorant on the subject of dredging and I think a lot of people don't understand it. I see the pictures of that large dredger but I also have seen those big wide hoses in the water that I thought were moving sand also. Are there more types of dredging than the big dredger? Can less damaging ways be used to make the water deep enough for the barges?



Posted By: bywarren

Re: Update on boat that damaged reef. - 04/18/09 05:17 PM

I think you have the wrong topic. Should your thoughts not be under the dredging topic?
Posted By: SimonB

Re: Update on boat that damaged reef. - 04/18/09 05:36 PM

The internationally accepted average of US$2,000 per square meter of reef is used as the determination of the fine.
Posted By: bywarren

Re: Update on boat that damaged reef. - 04/18/09 05:58 PM

By my calculations that criteria was not used here. Thus the question still remains as to how Belize figures it.
Posted By: sweetjane

Re: Update on boat that damaged reef. - 04/18/09 06:48 PM

Originally Posted by bywarren
I am impressed how swiftly Belize was able to investigate the circumstances causing this and determine that the captain was at fault...


i didn't see anything saying anything about fault. but even if there was no fault (an accident), don't they assume liability for damage resulting from their boat anchor?

would the owner of a yacht that size carry insurance for this type of thing?

i lean toward the thinking that enforcing a fine may prevent future episodes.

Posted By: SimonB

Re: Update on boat that damaged reef. - 04/18/09 06:52 PM

That's what was used for the Westerhaven and where I found the info on setting value. I think it's a negotiated thing with that starting as the base.
Posted By: SP Daily

Re: Update on boat that damaged reef. - 04/18/09 06:53 PM

Originally Posted by bywarren
By my calculations that criteria was not used here. Thus the question still remains as to how Belize figures it.

By: US$800,000 at US$2,000 per square meter works out to 400 sq. meters or about 4,000 sq. feet. What are your calculations and how did you collect your data? Did you dive and survey the damage yourself?
Posted By: bywarren

Re: Update on boat that damaged reef. - 04/18/09 06:59 PM

Jesse: I used the figures reported in the article by the San Pedro Daily ie: 25X45 meters.
Posted By: SimonB

Re: Update on boat that damaged reef. - 04/18/09 07:00 PM

Using the $2000.00US figure the fine should have been $2,250,000.00US according to the information in the article.
Posted By: bywarren

Re: Update on boat that damaged reef. - 04/18/09 07:05 PM

My point exactly if they used your criteria Simon. Apparently they did not. Thus the question still remains as to how they figured it.
Posted By: papashine

Re: Update on boat that damaged reef. - 04/18/09 07:13 PM

I believe the reported damage only encased 25 ft by 45 ft.
Posted By: bywarren

Re: Update on boat that damaged reef. - 04/18/09 07:17 PM

Not according to the article reprinted in the San Pedro Daily. It said meters. As also stated in the first post here.
Posted By: SP Daily

Re: Update on boat that damaged reef. - 04/18/09 07:19 PM

You can't believe what you read in the news...
Posted By: sweetjane

Re: Update on boat that damaged reef. - 04/18/09 07:22 PM

i see the conflict. the report on page 1 of this thread says meters, where a former report said feet.

http://www.lovefm.com/ndisplay.php?nid=9873
Posted By: bywarren

Re: Update on boat that damaged reef. - 04/18/09 07:28 PM

OK, so I appologize to Jesse for reading the San Pedro Daily and not diving and surveying it myself. wink

But whether you use feet or meters, if you accept Simon's contention that the accepted figure is $2000, it still does not compute. So the question still remains as to how the Belize officials calculate it.

PS: as reported in The Reporter "A team of scientists from the DOE as well as the Hol Chan Marine office in San Pedro conducted an assessment on the reef’s damage and concluded that the area affected measured 25 by 45 in meters.

Eckart told investigators that the yacht was drifting towards the reef, after the engine automatically shut down when a rope got tangled up in its propeller.

He reportedly threw the anchor to stop the vessel from going aground. The anchor and the heavy chain attached to it however ripped through the reef causing damage.

Hulse said that an assessment showed that 30% of the area had been damaged and that DOE calculated the damage to be US $800,000."

So, if you take 30% of $2250000 you are getting close to figure using Simon's number.
Posted By: sweetjane

Re: Update on boat that damaged reef. - 04/18/09 07:39 PM

"it still does not compute"

at this point, with all we've heard and read of how things work in belize, wouldn't have struck you as much more odd if it HAD? laugh

(this was just a joke)
Posted By: Moose In Belize

Re: Update on boat that damaged reef. - 04/19/09 03:43 PM

I know this topic has been beaten to death, but I still have one remaining mystery. The yacht was reportedly on the outside (east) of the reef when it ran into trouble. The captain dropped anchor to stop the yacht from drifting in a westerly direction onto the reef. One would assume that the yacht would drift westerly away from the anchor until the chain was fully extended. How then did the anchor end up on the reef and yet the yacht remained outside (east) of the reef?
Posted By: ScubaLdy

Re: Update on boat that damaged reef. - 04/19/09 03:58 PM

I think people often think of the reef as the part that is at the surface and catches the waves. The rest of the reef - the part where we dive - extends way out.
Posted By: skippy

Re: Update on boat that damaged reef. - 04/19/09 04:20 PM

We watched this happen while at anchor inside the reef. Our impression was that they had tried to tie up to a mooring ball, but maybe the ball was just in the general vicinity and the anchor had been dropped already. We were wondering why they thought a mooring ball would hold a vessel of that size, but again maybe they were not tied up to it.
Posted By: Marty

Re: Update on boat that damaged reef. - 11/11/09 02:57 PM

Westerhaven Admits It Damaged Reef; GOB Wants US$18 million

In January the Westerhaven cargo ship ran aground on Belize’s barrier reef – 32 miles from Belize City The ship was exiting Belize through the English Caye Channel when it ran into bad weather and the barrier reef near Caye Glory – a spawning site for the Nassau grouper. The reef sustained massive damages. More than 18,000 square meters of pristine reef had been affected. And more than that, the Port Authority ruled that the ship and its captain Fritz Schroeder were negligent.

Government is suing the ship’s owner for US$18 million but the ship’s owners say that’s way too much. So the case went to trial today and we were in the Chief Justice’s courtroom for the first day of testimony which included video footage of the damaged reef. Keith Swift has this report.

Keith Swift Reporting,
This underwater video shows the damage caused by the Westerhaven when the giant cargo ship ran aground. It tore through 18 thousand square meters of pristine reef in the area of Caye Glory on January 13th. Marine scientist Melanie McField accompanied 7News when we visited the site and she was the government’s star witness.

Melanie McField, Marine Scientist
“It was just to report on the damage assessment that we had conducted at the site right after the Westerhaven came in. I entered in the video tape into testimony. So the judge was able to look at the video and see the damages and discuss how we prepared the first preliminary report.”

Keith Swift,
“How extensive was the damage?”

Melanie McField,
“It was extensive. We did a preliminary report and the core damage area was a little over seven thousand metres square but subsequent to that, there is a more detailed report that has it a little bit less, 6,000 or something but that will all come out in the case tomorrow, I don’t want to say too much.”

The governor’s lead attorney Deanne Barrow says the case is half done since the owners of the Westerhaven have already admitted that they damaged the reef.

Deanne Barrow, Attorney for Government
“The case is going well because right before trial the defense conceded liability so that means half of the case is gone and the issues are now narrow.”

And that narrow issue is the cost of damages. Government says it is US$18 million but Michael Young – attorney for the Westerhaven’s owners – says that under a 1976 convention – there is a cap on damages.

Michael Young, Attorney for Westerhaven
“There is a convention which was actually adopted in 1976, it is called the Limitation of Liability for Maritime Leans and what that basically says is that ship owners, charterers, operators, managers of ships are protected when there is an accident in a country, which is a party to the treaty and so the maximum damages that can be awarded against them, once the convention applies is set by the convention and so that is what it means. And in this case, our clients who are the owners of the ship and also the charterers of the ship are saying that they are entitled to have their liability, that there is a ceiling on it under that convention.”

Keith Swift,
“And what would be that ceiling?”

Michael Young,
“Well the ceiling that we have calculated around US$2 million.

If you don’t have these limits applying then it could affect shipping, it could affect international trade because when a company sends its ship to a jurisdiction then they need to know that their liability is limited otherwise as a matter of fact a claim could result in the loss of the ship.”

Keith Swift,
“The defense attorney says that while they have conceded liability, that the amount being sought is just too high.”

Deanne Barrow,
“Well how do you put a price tag on a precious natural treasure such as the reef? It will be contentious. It is difficult to value something like a natural resource and so that’s why we have these scientific techniques that the scientists have collaborated on and have come up with. But it is a difficult exercise.”

Michael Young,
“We understand that when it comes to environmental damage that is important for any country and it is particularly important for Belize but you have the international situation where you want to have limits which shippers know that they are protected by when they send their ships to the country.”

Deanne Barrow,
“It will be divided by the court. I have confidence in my case. The treaty exists and we will hear the legal arguments tomorrow on that.”

The two other witnesses called were Kera Forman from the Fisheries Department and Jeavon Hulse from the Department of Environment. As attorney for the Department of Environment Deanne Barrow mentioned, two experts on the quantifications have been sworn in and they will take the stand tomorrow.

Channel 7
Posted By: Marty

Re: Update on boat that damaged reef. - 11/12/09 02:58 PM

Westerhaven Disputes Damage Assessment of US$18 million

Today three expert witnesses took the stand in the case of the Department of Environment versus the owners of the MS Westerhaven cargo ship. The ship ran aground on Belize’s reef in January and the Port Authority says it was due to negligence. 6,000 square meters of reef was damaged and more than 1,000 square meters was completely levelled. Today attorneys for the DOE Deanne Barrow and Lois Young called to the stand Walter Jap and Herbert Watkins, two ecologists from Florida. They both testified that using the habitat equivalency analysis – it will cost US$18 million to repair the reef or at least it would cost that amount to attempt to restore it. They added it would be difficult logistically and just about next to impossible to do so.

But this afternoon, attorney for Westerhaven Senior Counsel Michael Young called his own expert witness to stand. He is Richard Shaw, an environmental consultant who is also from Florida. Shaw told the court that he did his own assessment of the damage and that it would cost a small fraction of the US$18 million being sought by government. He says it will take only $4.5 million.

Michael Young, Attorney for MS Westerhaven
“The challenge was whether that particular method of assessment is based on statutory requirements of the United States. It is something that I would comment on in my address to the court at a later stage. I don’t really want to say more than that.

Again we are dealing with areas where I simply needed to or wish to bring to the attention to the court that the H.E.A. or the assessment in this case really came out of the United States and questions arise as to well you know ‘Is that to be applied in Belize?’ That is really the fundamental issue that is being addressed there.”

Richard Shaw was the defense’s final witness and the case was adjourned this evening pending close arguments.

Channel 7

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