DoE and Vulcan agree deal over coral damage

| 26/02/2016 | 0 Comments
Cayman News Service

MV Tatoosh, Paul Allen’s luxury yacht

(CNS): After several weeks of wrangling, the Department of Environment has been able to secure an agreement with Vulcan Inc. on behalf of billionaire Paul Allen, the co-founder of Microsoft and owner of a luxury yacht that damaged a large area of coral reef off the coast of Seven Mile Beach on 14 January. Coral restoration work has now begun in order to try and repair the damage, which covers a significant area. In a joint statement the parties said they had “agreed on the principles and parameters of a jointly administered emergency restoration plan”.

The focus now is to minimise or prevent ongoing losses and harm to the injured coral habitat in order to aid the recovery.

The plan “was concluded after close collaboration between the DoE and Vulcan representatives”, officials said and will entail a lot of work, some of which has already been completed by DoE staff and Polaris Applied Sciences, the reef restoration firm that has been contracted by Vulcan.

Then restoration started with the triage of the affected corals, which includes uprighting, uncovering, securing and moving viable corals to safe locations, while work on stabilising the reef structure is completed.

The marine experts will stabilise or remove the larger rubble accumulations to prevent continued and future damage to nearby living and established resources from the impacts of rubble movement.  As much rubble as possible and to the extent practicable will be incorporated onsite, to recreate and retain the original reef structure. After that they will recreate the lost structure, or reduce the unnatural appearance of scraping or scarring. The next step is to rescue and reattach as much living coral and other live biota as practicable to reduce the time for a full site natural recovery and restore ecosystem services. The final part of the plan will be to monitor the site to determine the success of the restoration effort in the months and years following completion.

On Tuesday, 1 March, the Polaris team is expected to begin work on implementing the remainder of the emergency restoration plan, the DoE and Vulcan said in the statement.

“Oversight of the restoration activities will be carried out by Dr Harold Hudson, a world leader in restoration of coral habitats and formerly of NOAA, who will be engaged by Vulcan but will report to both Vulcan and the DoE. The monitoring of the success of the restoration effort will be carried out under the auspices of the DoE,” the statement read.

“The DoE and Paul G. Allen are deeply committed to ocean health and conservation. Both the DoE and Vulcan have worked hard to ensure that this agreement reflects the best international standards for restoration of coral habitats. They look forward to working together on the restoration.  No further public statements are planned until the remediation work is completed,” the parties added.

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Category: Marine Environment, Science & Nature

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