(CNS): The Department of Environment has begun an investigation after the hull of a cargo vessel reportedly crushed a significant area of the reef in the George Town harbour when the ship ran aground. Government officials said inquiries are still at an early stage and they are now surveying the damage. Once the true environmental impact is identified, the environment ministry will be taking legal advice on the next course of action. “The public can rest assured that arrangements are being made so that the responsible party can make restitution,” a ministry spokesperson said.
They added, “The environment is Cayman’s most precious commodity, and a viable public asset that affects our way of life. Any purported damage to our natural resources is a matter of grave concern.”
The Saga cargo ship hit the reef early Friday morning offshore from Eden Rock, an area popular with snorkellers within the marine park. The ship, which is more than 100 metres long and weighs almost 300 tons, had to be pulled off the reef by a tug boat, leaving extensive damage.
This is the sixth time that ships have damaged reef in Cayman waters over the last three years, though most incidents are due to anchor damage. In October billionaire yacht owner Paul Allen settled with the Cayman Islands Government over the damage caused by his luxury boat’s anchor chain to around 14,000 square feet of reef.
How much the owner of the MV Tatoosh paid has not been disclosed but Environment Minister Wayne Panton said it was “commensurate with the loss of our public resource and facilitates a permanent mooring solution in Seven Mile Beach Park”.
see footage of reef damage posted on Youtube by Mark Hall