Billionaire yacht owner settles-up for reef damage

| 31/10/2016 | 25 Comments

(CNS): Paul Allen, the owner of the luxury 300ft mega-yacht, the MV Tatoosh, has reportedly settled with the Cayman Islands Government over the damage caused by his boat’s anchor chain to a section of coral off Seven Mile Beach earlier this year. Government has not said exactly how much the billionaire and former Microsoft owner has paid. Officials also revealed that no one has admitted any liability for the injured coral, which was discovered in January and covered around 14,000 square feet, according to Department of Environment staff, who assessed the damage alongside international experts.

Some nine months later, Environment Minister Wayne Panton has said that the agreement with TDE Maritime, Allen’s company which owns the boat, will also cover the cost of a new permanent mooring in the area.

“Losing any of our coral affects not only the stability of our environment, but also our economy,” Panton said in the release about the settlement Monday. “The agreement with TDE Maritime therefore reflects a value commensurate with the loss of our public resource and facilitates a permanent mooring solution in Seven Mile Beach Park. Our goal was to work with TDE Maritime in order to reach the best agreement for Cayman, and we achieved this goal because of our shared commitment to the environment.”

Paul Allen said his company was committed to environmental stewardship and that it had a proven history of working to improve ocean health.

“Our experience around the world in ocean conservation has proven that real change requires dedicated, long-term investment to have a meaningful effect,” he said. “We share the Cayman Islands Government’s goal of responsible management of the natural environment, and this agreement will help preserve the reefs and ecosystem for future generations.”

Although the two parties have now agreed that the deal settles the matter, neither Allen nor anyone from his company has admitted damaging the coral. From the beginning, the billionaire and his spokespeople disputed that the Tatoosh was responsible for all of the damage in the area. Paul Allen’s company Vulcan, which claimed to own the boat at the time, engaged in a public disagreement with the DoE, which estimated that more than 80% of coral in the approximately 14,000 sq.ft area within the West Bay Replenishment Zone was all damaged by the luxury boat’s anchor chain.

Despite the differences, Allen engaged a specialist marine firm to work with the DoE in a joint effort to at least try to restore or repair some of the damaged coral and assist with its recovery.

Allen’s yacht is one of a number of vessels that have damaged coral in local waters over the last four years. Speaking in the Legislative Assembly in June, Panton spoke about the challenges government faces in issuing fines and said there was a need for an increase in moorings that are capable of handling larger vessels.

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Comments (25)

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  1. Waste-of-breath says:

    As the boat was anchored where directed by the Port Authority it cannot be Mr Allen’s or his captain’s fault.
    When will the Port Authority wake up and employ a professional harbour-master instead of having the security guard at the gate issue instructions to ships/boats he can’t see and knows nothing about.

  2. Anonymous says:

    The settlement is that TDE Maritime will cover the cost for a single permanent mooring that Tatoosh can use when they call on Cayman, sometimes months at a time. That’s in their self-interest and the limit of their “environmental stewardship”. It’s a bit of a joke of a settlement.

    • Jotnar says:

      You mean apart from footing the cost of the repair work? And of course, the fairness of the size of the “settlement” really rather depends on whether they were following Port Authority instructions in anchoring there in the first place.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Use it for good permanent moorings and then if there is anything left over lets light up the main channel and a route through the north sound for visiting boats to get through the main channel to yacht club, the barcadere and harbour house. Another disaster is waiting to happen on the poorly marked channels in through the north sound. Then even sailboats with a draft of 6 feet are scared to nudge across the sound to fill up the marinas. I know because im in contact with visiting boats constantly asking. Navigation channels on a few of the gps systems direct visiting boats straight across the reef. So much potential for revenue lost. With cuba opening up sort it out

    • Anonymous says:

      Recently i had friends visiting on a 100 ft boat and we safely tied up in WB yacht club and barcadere. These people rented cars. Ate at restaurants everynight and threw money around because they have it. They had a great time here. Loved the island and will send others this way if we get the basics sorted out

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes ! The main channel lights are joke! If you don’t know where they are, good luck finding them, let alone at night in rough seas with no local knowledge!
      What Clint amd Dwene doing durning the day….. Eating good food and sleeping in the AC?

  4. SKEPTICAL says:

    More money that will not be “ring fenced” but merely disappear into the Black Hole of government public funds

  5. Alrighty then says:

    “Government has not said exactly how much the billionaire and former Microsoft owner has paid.”

    DING DING DING!!!! Why not though? This is a serious red flag.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I’m sure the word has gotten around that Cayman Islands is not a good place to bring your yacht. The hidden fees are incredible.

  7. Anonymous says:

    When will the Caymanian people start asking the hard questions?

  8. Oh The Irony says:

    Alden going to use it to build a cruise dock.

  9. Anonymous says:

    This money is I assume paid into public funds and is as a result of damage to Cayman’s natural environment which the public coffers (I also assume) pay for in terms of repairing damage to the reef – so why are the government not telling us how much the settlement was and assuring us that the money will be put back into the environment that the anchor damaged?

    And is it not more than a little bit hypocritical for a member of the PPM with their mega yacht / port whims to be making an inane statement such as “Losing any of our coral affects not only the stability of our environment, but also our economy,”

    • Anonymous says:

      @Paul Allen. You could have done us all a favor by insisting the settlement be paid into the Environmental Protection Fund and be publicly scrutinized.

      • Anonymous says:

        Except @Paul Allen didn’t want to opay for the coral that his people smahsed up through their negligence. (Basic rule of seamanship these days: don’t anchor in coral. Anchor in the sand.)

        • Jotnar says:

          Their negligence being anchoring where they were told to by the Port Authority, who are masters of the basic rules of seamanship?

          • Anonymous says:

            No, they didn’t. Because you and I both know that Port Authority did not tell them to anchor in the coral. There is a perfectly serviceable anchoring area there – this yacht and others have used it before – where you can anchor in the sand without hitting the coral.

            If someone tells you to ‘park in that space over there’ and you go and hit a tree next to the open space whose fault is it?

  10. Anonymous says:

    They should have made him pay to fix the damage as well as setting up a scholarship fund or rehabilitation centre.

    • Anonymous says:

      Because? Your Caymanian and he is not?

    • Anonymous says:

      @9:22am – If he has paid for the damages why in God’s name should he set up a scholarship fund or rehabilitation center?

      How many Caymanians or Caymanian business owners have set up scholarships for Caymanians or built rehabilitation centers for their own people?

      Take your time….I’ll wait for the answer.

  11. Marathon says:

    Well done Wayne Panton. Clearly a good negotiator with the rest of the world.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Can he buy us some stuff?

  13. Anonymous says:

    another ppm fudge job for everybody….
    who was to blame=?
    what cost of repairs=?
    what was paid=?

    just anotherday in wonderland……..zzzzzzzzzzzz

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