Reef damage from anchor in legit zone

| 10/12/2015 | 33 Comments
Cayman News Service

Damage to reef inside George Town Harbour by cruise ship anchor

(CNS): The latest damage to the reef in the George Town Harbour by a cruise ship is a consequence of the need to sacrifice some areas where reef systems occur to preserve others, according to Environment Minister Wayne Panton. However, there will be no consequences for Pullmantur Cruises for the destruction Tuesday of a section of the reef by the anchor of its Zenith cruise ship because the captain was directed to and anchored in a legitimate if less used anchor zone.

Wayne Panton said that “as unpalatable as it was to see the damage done”, especially to the rare species of coral, the ship was in one of the designated anchoring zones for cruise liners.

The damage, videoed by Scott Prodahl, a dive instructor with Don Foster’s Dive Cayman, and posted it on YouTube, was picked up by the Daily Mail in the UK and other international media. However, it is a fraction of the damage that is going to happen if government moves ahead with its plans for a cruise berthing facility.

While reefs in the harbour have been and continue to be subjected in some cases to heavy anchor damage, the designated areas have been carved out to ensure other more significant reef systems are preserved. But now, some of the oldest and most pristine reefs in the harbour, which have been largely preserved as a result of the designations, are now under serious threat by the cruise dock project.

The environment minister also appears to be the only member of government’s inner circle who remains unconvinced that the cruise berthing project has been justified. He said that if the project must go ahead in order to save the cruise industry, he wants to see revised plans that will cut the amount of damage that will be caused by the project as it currently stands.

Panton, who is a diver and keen marine conservationist, lamented the latest reef destruction and said he could understand the widespread public concerns that have arisen as a result of the footage showing the loss of important corals. He said the Department of Environment would prefer not to see any damage like this but there was nothing that could be done about this latest incident as the ship followed instructions.

The DoE confirmed that the area in the southern anchorage zone is not used as often as those in the northern area of the harbour, so there is still some living reef in those areas.

A Carnival Cruise Ship, the Carnival Magic, which anchored outside the zone in August last year and caused massive damage, was never fined because the local pilot was also implicated in the erroneous placement of the ship. But the cruise line volunteered $100,000 to the attempted restoration project, now known as Magic Reef.

One of the main cruise lines pressing for Cayman to destroy far more reef with its ultimatum that without berthing facilities the number of calls to Cayman will fall away, it has also donated more cash to the Central Caribbean Marine Institute on Little Cayman for research on coral nurseries.

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Comments (33)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    The defenders of this destruction seem to be arguing that coral takes hundreds of years to grow, but if it is damaged in the name of profit then it will grow back really really quickly. Probably because it is capitalist supporting coral that thinks that Fox News is great and that Donald Trump has some great ideas.

    • Anonymous says:

      Scientist working with NOAA find if you slice coral and put it back on reef it grows 25% faster. Go on youtube you will find the evidence from all around the world. I had a coconut tree that grew 25 feet and never produced coconuts . I had some landscaping trash and burnt it by tree and in a short time it produced the largest coconuts . It seems when stress happen it made a choice to step up to the plate.
      You know until Hurricane Ivan happened, I didn’t know a coconut tree out of the ground could be buried back and produce coconuts after a year or two. The earth is an amazing place.
      I noticed that you environmentalists that work in Diving industry don’t agree with the UNEP about the amount of diving one can do on coral reefs.The response was interesting on Save Cayman reefs on FB

      • Anonymous says:

        So repairing 100 years of damage will only need 75 years? Ah well that changes everything.

  2. David Miller says:

    You people who couldn’t see the truth through glasses with the Lord pointing his finger are disgraceful. You just want to win an argument that you are wrong in.
    The Port , DOE and cruise ship has told you point blank it’s a anchoring point for cruise ship. It has been used in the past. The pilot is not wrong on this one. We had more cruise ships so we needed to use that one. It hadn’t been used in a long time, in fact I believed it was the time a cruise ship turned around in the wind and knocked out a big piece of Eden Rock. Because it wasn’t used the coral reef came back in certain areas. So , yes coral can grow back once ships stop using it . So , yes cruise ship piers will make a lot more corals grow in GT if the idiots who have NO EXPERIENCE in coral growing will stop with the misinformation.

    • Anonymous says:

      Mr Miller, people who feel the need to “shout ” have lost the argument at the first word.

    • Anonymous says:

      So the sensible course is to stop using this anchoring point because we can now see the terrible damage it causes.

    • Anonymous says:

      First, what about the other one? Do you agree that steps should be taken to hold the pilot accountable? Second, so what if it was an anchoring spot, this video shows how harmful using that area is to the local environment so using that area has to end. Third, do stop shouting, it is quite unnecessary.

  3. Fools and Other Peoples Money... says:

    I couldn’t give two turds about the Tenders. Building two piers to dock four ships is stupid. It always has been and always will be. They will sit empty or half empty 80% of the time. Show me the plan for one pier and you might, might, get some support.

  4. Anonymous says:

    The Christmas Kirkbots are out in force-sales must be down…no customers, lots of time to push buttons in support of your employer, Daarth Coralin Vader

    • Anonymous says:

      Seems like the kirkbots are killing you- mind you get a stroke before Christmas!!

      • Anonymous says:

        That’s what Kirkbots do and that what I wait for. Just needs a couple of us to remind the public every now and again that the thumbs up and down on these items clearly manipulated, normally over night and its nearly always 20-30 votes appear, occasionally a lot more if the anti port comment is spot on.

  5. Anonymous says:

    The tender operators keep trying to say that tendering is the most environmental solution yet they burn diesel up and down the harbour all day long. They also cause the cruise ships to burn fuel all day long keeping the boats up whether anchored or not.
    Add to that the fact that these anchors keep digging up coral and reefs every day and keep having these accidents, soon you won’t have to fight for any coral.
    How can people be so blind that they don’t see this group is pushing for a different kind of green that the tender boats make?

  6. Anonymous says:

    Bunch of cry babies Has anyone seen the rebirth of the areas where the anchors drop they are teeming with life of all kinds looking for a fresh meal and repopulating areas that were devoid of food.
    Stop being so negative about everything

    • Gabby says:


    • Anonymous says:

      Yes, I have heard the coral that takes hundred of years to grow can grow back fully within weeks or months. I have heard that. From stupid people with a commercial agenda who want to make money at the cost of the environment.

  7. Anonymous says:

    If we don’t get a dock soon there won’t be any reef left to debate about. The docks that only require relocating a couple of acres will stop these repeat anchor damages killing hundreds of acres of coral.

  8. Anonymous says:

    This is every reason for the importance of cruise berthing facilities to prevent exactly this type of damage which has been going on for 40 years. Cruise berthing will eliminate four cruise ships a day from having to anchor and continue damaging coral from anchoring.
    It is time SaveCayman and SaveMyTenders wake up and smell the coffee that there obstruction of cruise berthing is nothing more than promoting and continuing more damage to coral from anchoring.

    • Anonymous says:

      HA, HA, HA, HA………..Let’s dig up the coral and pour cement so we don’t damage the coral………HA, HA, HA, HA, …you can’t make this stuff up……..HA, HA, HA…..

      • Anonymous says:

        George Town port was developed for cargo ships and cruise ships, not for diving and photography. sometimes both can co- exist, other times they cannot. There are other places on the island to dive,. Next thing all of you will be trying to stop cargo from coming in.

  9. Anonymous says:

    so both times it is Caymanians screwing up – first the pilot, who should be made to pay (or hisinsurance) for the remediation to the reef; then this time, the Caymanian authorities have actually directed them to put an anchor down in the zone. Incredible. The greed will be short-lived if you keep destroying the natural environment which is why people come at all. More importantly, your grandchildren will hate you.

    • Anonymous says:

      The protection of the pilot on the first instance is a national disgrace.

      • Anonymous says:

        Albeit it one consistent with Alden’s policy of Sweeping Things Under The Carpet If It Might Cost Me Votes.

  10. Anonymous says:

    the ships that come close to shore to let off gas to the gas tanks, attach to permanent moorings and don’t damage anything. they are so close to shore it could be disaster if they got loose and ran aground with all that gas. yet they have no problem with not getting loose off of the permanent moorings in place for them. Everything works smoothly.

    why oh why oh why did the project to install permanent moorings in the 90’s for the cruiseships get shelved and disregarded?

    Stupid greedy corrupt government, that’s why. 20+ years later and still the morons can’t get it right!


  11. SKEPTICAL says:

    Maybe if the cruise ships damage enough of the harbor reefs, supporters of the cruise dock will claim that there is nothing left for the development dredging to destroy so it is no longer an issue.

  12. Knot S Smart says:

    This is just to soften up the area before we dredge the hell out of it to build our dock…

  13. Anonymous says:

    Shameful. The original YouTube video has over 600,000 views since yesterday…there is global interest and disgust.

    • Anonymous says:

      It’s in the uk daily mail online….

    • A Nony Mouse says:

      It would behoove government to take CAREFUL notice of the GLOBAL outrage over a MINOR event of destruction vs. the MASSIVE damage that will result from the current port proposal!

      Cayman is at a crucial point of making a decision that will not only adversely affect numerous established dive sites, but also critically impact the seasonal movement of beach sand between the western and southern coastlines. Failure to acknowledge and mitigate this potential environmental disaster will result in PERMANENT and IRREVERSIBLE consequences for the current and future generations.

      Penny wise and pound foolish will not cut it!

      • anon says:

        Off the top of my head, Don Fosters Reef, Paradise Reef, Eden Rock, the Wreck of the Balboa, the wreck of the Cali, and up to Cheeseburger Reef are all threatened by the proposed dock project. Direct impacts from pier supports and concrete will obliterate some sites. Silting from the dredging will smother others.That’s six sites by my count.

        Guess the dive industry needs to change their marketing from Cayman 365 to Cayman 359.

  14. Anonymous says:

    There is no way to spin this as a routine designated parking spot. Ripping through hundreds of years of live coral growth in minutes clearly demonstrates that this was NOT a routine parking spot. Which begs the question, on whose authority was this new area granted and when?

    • Anonymous says:

      Not a new area; an area that is only used when the other spots are full. Think of it like a grass parking lot. The area closest to the gate is ground down to bare dirt but the parking areas further in aren’t because they only get used when the close spots are full.

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