Ship, port and agent at fault, says DoE

| 06/03/2015 | 8 Comments
Cayman News Service

A Carnival cruise ship anchor damaged the coral reef off Grand Cayman

(CNS): A report conducted by the Department of Environment into the damage caused by a cruise ship anchor pointed the finger of responsibility at the Port Authority, the local shipping agent and the cruise line for the 11,000 sq-ft of crushed reef. But only the cruise line has made any financial contribution towards the recovery effort.

While the damage may cost as much as $14 million to repair, the Cayman government has so far accepted a $100,000 donation from Carnival Cruise Line.

Regardless of the laws about reef damage, it is now clear that none of the three players will be held accountable in the courts. The DoE report notes that a criminal prosecution and legal accountability under the Marine Conservation Law, although possible, would be a difficult, costly and a lengthy course of action, particularly with a government entity potentially also being at fault.

As a result, the DoE recommended that the government approach all the three organizations involved and appeal to them to acknowledge their corporate and social responsibility to finance a comprehensive restoration of the site.

The DoE set a target of at least CI$2,000,000 to ensure that a precedent is maintained for a high dollar values attributed to reefs and to send a clear message about the value government places on its natural resources, with all the funds being used for the restoration efforts at the site.

Up until this week when Carnival formally handed over $100,000, the first payment of a larger donation, the costs of the project have been covered by volunteers and watersports operators, along with the DoE’s resources and the National Trust.

Neither Bodden Shipping, whose pilot directed the captain of the cruise line to the reef outside the anchorage zone, nor the Port Authority, which licenses the pilots and is supposed to enforce the law and ensure ships are properly located, have made any contribution.

As what has developed into an overwhelming and well-coordinated volunteer effort continues, the need for funds will mount. The DoE has suggested that cash from the three entities that should be accountable for the damage could fund a dedicated professional coral reef restoration team.

The professional reef doctors could carry out the restoration with the continued assistance from the local dive community, with regulatory oversight by the DoE. This situation is comparable to the 1996 Soto’s Reef restoration funded by Holland America, when its vessel, Maasdam, ran aground in the George Town Harbour, the DoE noted.

See report on the DoE’s website

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Category: Marine Environment, Science & Nature

Comments (8)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    A cover up of the highest order. Why are Bodden Shipping not fired from the contract and sued?

  2. Anonymous says:

    It is our elected members, their lack of leadership and poor decision making throughout the years, that is ultimately to blame. Sad.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I’d like to know how the cruise line can be blamed for this. They were instructed where to drop anchor by a local pilot, as long as they followed his instructions, how can they be at fault?
    What’s amazing is that with the lack of port facilities, government has not installed buoys so the cruise ships can tie onto them and avoid using their anchors altogether. Surely government could have allocated $100,000 over the last 30 years we have had cruise ships, or learned from the incident that happened in 1996. How about this incident?
    With the volume of ships coming here, I’m surprised this type of thing doesn’t happen more often. It will surely happen again unless government puts in preventative measures.

    • Anonymous says:

      Read the report. “the ship had requested an alternative anchorage to the one assigned”. If you’re told to go here and you go over there instead its on your head when something falls on it. (Not absolving of blame those who should have said ‘no”.)

  4. Anonymous says:

    Bodden Shipping and its beneficiaries have made millions in business here and its a national disgrace that they haven’t bothered to even offer to donate to the repair………Perhaps Gov’t should yank their licence…….Speaks poorly of them a s business!!

  5. Driftwood says:

    Difficult to pursue? Seriously? Does everyone give up here when it gets difficult?? What happened to “what is the right thing to do?” Or is it too difficult to pursue “lodge” brothers or similar…That ladies and gentlemen is exactly where this place is going wrong..

    • Anonymous says:

      More like impossible to pursue. Cayman does not yet have a true democracy. You have the tribal leaders, the tribe, and then everyone else period.

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