Allen and DoE complete joint coral restoration plan

| 03/04/2016 | 8 Comments
Cayman News Service

Diver work on the emergency restoration plan to save damaged coral (Photo courtesy of Polaris Applied Sciences)

(CNS): Following very public disagreements over culpability and how best to remediate a large section of the coral reef off the coast of Seven Mile Beach that was severely damaged by the anchor chain of the luxury yacht owned by billionaire Paul Allen, his company, Vulcan Inc., and the Cayman Islands Department of Environment (DoE) have completed a jointly administered emergency restoration plan to save the injured coral.

More than 80% of coral in an area approximately 14,000 sq.ft within the West Bay Replenishment Zone was damaged on 14 January by the luxury boat’s anchor chain.

According to a release from the environment ministry, members of the Polaris Applied Sciences team, which was hired to implement the plan by Vulcan, conducted remediation work over 24 days, or around 300 man hours. During this time, the team reattached approximately 1,600 benthic organisms including 429 hard corals over 20 centimeters in diameter, 955 hard corals less than 20 centimeters in diameter, and 208  soft corals and sponges.

Cayman News Service

MV Tatoosh, Paul Allen’s luxury yacht

More than 30 tons of cement and sand, along with eight tons of rubble, were used to rebuild and restabilise the impacted area, the ministry said. Work was completed on 28 March under the oversight of Dr Harold Hudson, formerly of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and a world leader in restoration of coral habitats, who advised and assisted Polaris in their efforts.

“The reef remediation by Polaris was an experienced-based approach to help minimize the damage and improve the likelihood of coral recovery in the area,” Dr Hudson said. “The swift implementation of this plan provides the greatest chance for recovery of the affected area and I commend both Vulcan and the DoE for their efforts to help ensure its rapid completion.”

In addition, the DoE hired William Precht, a coral restoration expert with Dial Cordy and Associates, Inc. in Miami, Florida, to assist with project oversight and assessment as well as to undertake the long-term monitoring of the restored site to evaluate the efficacy of the restoration effort performed by Polaris in the months and years following completion. The DoE and Precht have inspected the site and are satisfied that the project was performed to the agreed specifications.

Cayman News Service

Image of reef taken during the emergency restoration effort (Photo courtesy of Polaris Applied Sciences)

The restoration included triage to the affected corals — uprighting, uncovering, securing and moving viable corals to safe locations, while work to stabilize the reef structure was completed; stabilizing and removing larger rubble accumulations, to prevent continued and future damage to nearby living and established resources from the impacts of rubble movement; and incorporating the rubble onsite, to recreate and retain the original reef structure; recreating the lost structure, and reducing any unnatural appearance of scraping or scarring; and rescuing and reattaching living coral and other live biota as practicable, to reduce the time for a full site natural recovery and to restore ecosystem services.

“The DoE and Paul G. Allen are deeply committed to ocean health and conservation,” the release stated. “Both the DoE and Vulcan have worked hard to ensure that the implementation of this plan reflects the best international standards for restoration of coral habitats and are pleased by the completion of the work and the joint partnership that made it possible.”

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Category: Marine Environment, Science & Nature

Comments (8)

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  1. roy says:

    Are people aware that this site is a anchorage area designated by the DOE and not the Port.Once coordinates are given to vessels it is their responsibility to ensure they don’t damage anything.

    • Anonymous says:

      Roy. You are wrong. It is Port Authority who give anchoring instructions (in this general area its ‘anchor in the big sand patch’) and the Captain who has to use common sense not to anchor in coral.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Elephant in the room is that Cayman touts itself as a maritime registry and has managed to become the flag of choice for some of the world’s largest yachts but has no where for them to dock.

    Infrastructure development is severely lacking in Cayman.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I would like to know how much it cost.

  4. Anonymous says:

    How about a HUGE kudos to the DOE and Vulcan enterprises for stepping up and doing a fantastic job of restoring the damaged area. Perhaps we could just rejoice in the good that was done and stop trying to overshadow that with the constant blame game. All to often everyone seems to jump to the negative and skip over the positive. This is truly a case where those involved stepped up and did the right thing. Thank you

  5. Anonymous says:

    Now will the DoE take steps to prosecute the port staff responsible for the worse damage that was done to the reef or has that officially been swept under the carpet out of political expediency. If it has been swept away how high the political ladder did that order come from?

    • Sharkey says:

      Now that we see what can be done when you know what you are doing . I wonder what has happened to the other damaged sites in George town , did they simply run out of money and the corals / environment left to die .
      Was this the same Port Authority that directed the other ships that damaged the other sites ? Then DoE , why are these people still on the job to continue to use their careless disrespectful knowledge to destroy the underwater environment ?

    • Anonymous says:

      Which Minister is in charge?

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Cayman News Service