Trust: Coral relocation message misleading

| 31/10/2019 | 72 Comments
Cayman News Service
Wreck of the Cali (Photo by Courtney Platt)

(CNS): A year after its last statement on the cruise project raising concerns about the loss of marine habitat and wrecks, the National Trust for the Cayman Islands has raised new questions about coral relocation and said the message that it can be moved is misleading. The Trust warned that relocating the ancient and pristine coral in the George Town Harbour is fraught with difficulties and the research required to inform such a process, as well as wreck relocation, will not be available before the referendum.

As the latest organisations involved in conservation to comment on the project, the Trust raised a critical point about the lack of information on coral and wreck relocation. The work that will be needed to be done, including a revised environmental assessment, to inform this proposed mitigation plan could reveal unknown damning consequences.

But as no marine work is expected to start before the spring of 2020, the people will be going to the polls on 19 December with no real idea of how much marine habitat will be lost if the project is allowed to go ahead.

The Trust is particularly concerned about the notion that the coral can be moved to mitigate the onslaught on the marine habitat. “The coral reefs in our harbour have taken thousands of years to form and cannot be so easily replicated. It is therefore misleading to suggest otherwise,” the Trust said about the relocation proposal.

The NGO said that after the new designs were released, they met with with representatives of Verdant Isle Port Partners, but the meeting appears not to have put any of their concerns to rest.

The Trust said it “remains concerned about the potential damage to our unique marine environment by the proposed facility, as well as the potential loss of two historical ship wrecks which have themselves become artificial reefs”.

Disappointed that government is ignoring a recommendation by the Trust and other activists that an independent EIA be carried out on the new plans, the NGO pointed out that the last authors are now compromised because they are now part of the consortium.

While around 12 acres of coral is at direct risk from dredging and even more from indirect threats, such as elevated turbidity and sedimentation, the Trust questioned how relocation would mitigate the extensive damage.

The Trust warned that the “area in question is presently alive and thriving. There are 60 species of corals, some rare and endangered, which are currently protected under the National Conservation Law. Over 400 species of fish, and hundreds of species of marine organisms that produce shells and skeletons for sand have been recorded. This incredible biodiversity in the reefs and surrounding areas will be impacted.”

The Trust noted the vast difference between coral relocation and coral restoration and their varying success rates.

“Displaced coral will be trying to recover and thrive in an unfamiliar area and mortality rates of relocated versus reattached coral, based on recent studies in the Caribbean, are high. Even Verdant Isle Partners do not dispute that relocation and cultivation will not fully mitigate the amount of coral and biodiversity that will be lost,” the Trust said in its statement.

“It is impossible to fully identify the effects of the sediment that will, once displaced, be continually resuspended by vessels using the facility, and by the maintenance dredging that will possibly be required over the years. How far and in what direction will this sediment travel on our currents, and how will coral and other marine life be impacted in its wake, remain grave concerns. What will be the consequences of major storms on Hog Sty Bay during construction or afterwards?” the non-profit organisation asked.

But to wholly assess the potential ramifications and determine the true short and long term risks will require specialist research and data collection, which will not begin before March 2020. In addition, while Verdant Isle is planning to try to move the Balboa wreck to an unconfirmed site 1km away, the future of the Wreck of the Cali remains entirely uncertain.

Even if these wrecks were successfully relocated, which most experts believe is extremely unlikely, moving them removes the historical significance as well as the loss of marine life which has reclaimed these ships as artificial reefs, the Trust said.

“As with the relocation of substantive coral reefs, successful relocation of shipwrecks is dependent upon the integrity of the structure and the feasibility to move and reposition sections relatively intact,” the Trust said.

Calling for the developers to release any studies it undertakes as soon as they are available, it noted the problem presented for voters next month because they will not be published before the referendum. This means that the people of the Cayman Islands will have to make their decision without having all the facts, the Trust added.

See the fulls statement in the CNS Library (scroll down to ‘Statements/letters’

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Category: development, Local News, Marine Environment, Science & Nature

Comments (72)

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  1. Mikey says:

    This port will create jobs for the Cayman people they say. But not say how much jobs will be lost due to this project, for example ‘CMS” Tenders, all dive industry on this side, beach bars and an iconic Italian restaurant on the water PSSSSHHHH this is Bull $#%$^%$^

  2. Anonymous says:

    The CPR group and the National Trust are fighting against the CBF but do you know, it’s not just the CBF for some of them,but the entire port.Some of them want George Town for Townhouses and restaurants for the rich and famous and want the Port ( especially the cargo facilities) moved out of Town. Goodbye jobs for Towners , but it is ok because Kenneth wants that too.He said it in the LA.

  3. Anonymous says:

    With traffic as bad as it is we should stop focusing on building a dock in George Town and start focusing on moving all of our government agencies out to Bodden Town and towards the east.

    A vote no doesn’t mean the dock won’t happen it means we have a choice to think about it longer and really see how it’s going to happen and get the best deal for us while protecting our most valuable resource: coral. Right now we need to focus on our traffic problem that is too much to handle and adding more people in George Town is only gonna make it worse.

  4. Anonymous says:

    What we know is that the entire area of coral is NOT 12 acres of coral. That position by the port opponents is also extremely misleading. Even within the area there is not as much coral as they suggest. Fighting against an enhancement of our port will come back to haunt our kids. There is no other reasonable location to do this and port opponents need to stop being influenced by future politicians and see that we all need to take a balanced approach to this project which the country needs. Had we listened to the earlier opponents of the existing port or anything else we would be no where today. Be reasonable and less political.

    • Anonymous says:

      Likewise building of this port could also come back to haunt our children. This is NOT about politics but simple facts. You are correct it is not 12 acres, it is now 10.3 acres to be dredged. This is fact.

      • Anonymous says:

        In 3 dimensions. 210,000 cu yards of light, calcified, sponge and coral suffocating cutter sectioned particulate.

  5. Anonymous says:

    CNS, some comment “thumbs” aren’t registering! What’s up?

    CNS: The most probable explanation is that someone else at the same IP address has already voted.

  6. Anonymous says:

    The port will be built next year or sometime in the future it is inevitable. That saying we know the longer it takes to BE built will cost more. We have got the best deal in the Caribbean. They will be the bank that funds the project and of course they will get paid interest like any other bank. The CPR tries to pretend the money is coming from our pocket. Well, if we don’t build the piers it will. Because the ships will get smaller and smaller amounts of guests who are going on larger and larger ships. People want more and more. We can’t fight it. With less tourists coming we will definitely drive through Harbour Drive more conveniently. With less tourists we’ll be able to sit in our favorite restaurant and the prices will go down for sure. So at the end of the day we the working people will probably happier. But that won’t help our economy. We will pay for the schools out of our pockets. We will pay for all the schoolchildren whose parents can’t afford to provide breakfast and lunch. We’re Christians we wouldn’t allow a child to go hungry. We know for sure that putting more money into school teachers wages is not the solution. Neither is building more expensive gymnasiums, schools or any of that. Fixing the Dump will be fixed by Dart or some other conglomerate at a price where Government will have to give concessions. While poor people will get poorer and poorer.
    Change is coming you can’t stop it, you can delay it. But we will lose the ability to keep the masses who will constantly come and receive Caymanian Status. For once they are legal they have seen where they come from and they will know it can be done. Then our future for our children and grand children will lose the place in line to achieve success. Business takes money a lot of it. We need a source that will provide it at a low interest rate. The rate is low now. But it constantly sees saws through time. Where will your war chest be when a different opportunity becomes available? Do you know anything about stocks, bonds, commodities, bitcoin? Probably not, but you’re ancestry knew about the sea. Well, maybe we can start building boats, ships or yachts? OOPs, we still going to need a pier. Where would you suggest we put it? George Town is the only place it should go. Diving is done all around this island. They are complaining about 11 acres of removal of a shipwreck called the Balboa.
    For you young people who don’t know ANYTHING about this wreck, it sank in the 1932 storm. It became a hazard to navigation for boats to come in and bring supplies to Grand Cayman. It was blown up by explosives. The Cali ran aground a short distance away and provided Cayman its first taste of rice. It was shared among all the districts but most people didn’t know how to cook it. The smell got worse and worse so they blew that one up too.
    We have had several ships hit different sections of reef in George Town for hundreds of years. Did you all know that? So the reefs have been destroyed and grow back each time. You don’t need anyone to tell you that just snorkel around George Town when a ship isn’t there. Eden Rock had a trawler drag anchor during a Northwester and had to be pulled off the iron shore the steel cable is still there where they wrapped it around coral to winch it off. A cruise ship hit its stern when the wind change and smacked of a bedroom size chunk of coral. People still diving it and said it was beautiful. Then a ‘Ft 330’ Container ship ran their ship on top of Eden Rock and they finally yanked that ship off too. They still diving it and saying there’s no problem with the reef? Another scientist who works for the DOE makes a YouTube and says to the world that anybody who has dived in the years gone will be able to tell that the REEFS ARE DYING and I agree with him. You can’t find the YOUTUBE videos now because someone has blocked it from being seen here. LOL really? Dirty, dirty tricks. Beware folks there is no-one out there that is offering your children a job, not one.

    • Anonymous says:

      Thanks for sharing, Appreciated!

      From a Caymanian

    • Anonymous says:

      False news

    • Anonymous says:

      Thank you!

    • #Woke says:

      Think bigger my friend before you destroy money making tourism.

      2018 DoT figures:

      -193,000 more cruisers and earned an additional $11 million.

      – 45,000 more stayovers and earned an additional $182 million!!!!!

      If that doesn’t explain where the bread comes from nothing will.

      How many hotels are they building? And they want a dock too? No sir, the dock is not for us it is for them two mega cruise companies who will buy up all the waterfront businesses that go bust and lets see what faces they have in their shops!

      They already offered to buy Dart property to build a coral attraction. How many Caymanian coral handlers are going to come from here to be directed by Santa Vaughn- seriously?

      NO fix our roads, schools and dump NOW for our own people. Or is the budget fake too?

      NO dock.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Pray tell me why these elected officials are trying to cram this port down the throats of the Cayman citizens! Me thinks that something very foul is afoot!

    • Anonymous says:

      Simple answer – MONEY! Everybody promoting this project expects to get a cut of the proceeds. Having said that, the cynic in me feels that some prominent people opposing the dock are doing so because they’ve been cut out of this pending windfall.

  8. 30% Tax rate for poor Caymanians buys them sub-standard public education says:

    Caymanians, particularly Caymanians who have children in public education, who do not vote NO to this port project, will be doing themselves a disservice. You need only read the Auditor General’s Oct. 2019 Performance Audit on public schools in the Cayman Islands. Skip down to Appendix 3 of the report here to read the AG’s recommendations:—Final-report.pdf

    This government’s full focus and resources should be directed at fixing the abysmal state of public education. Once our citizens receive public primary and secondary education sufficient for them to obtain employment or move to tertiary education, then we can start talking about $200 million dollar publicly funded projects that will enrich only a few already wealthy Caymanians. Vote NO.

    • Joe B says:

      The edumacation problem here in the Cayman islands the same as most other third world areas. Culture. You spent (according to some one who believes he knows) 66% more money per student than the world average and are still failing. Do you really think spending twice as much more will solve that problem? Are Caymanians ready to change the Caymanian culture to a more modern version for the sake of the cultures survival? I don’t see that happening on purpose. As more and more of the island is taken over by cultures that have taught their children that education is a necessary part of life (and a way to get ahead of those who don’t) Caymanian culture will die out because it can not survive much like American indians who also could not assimilate fast enough to keep up. Your education problem is being worked on by the very people who have been brought up on third world education. If you expect different results than what you are getting you are insane. Your kids have no choice and no chance. They will only look forward to the same problems and the adults now have. But hey, They will still have their culture to fall back on like the adults do. As far as the Dock problem goes look at it this way. All developed countries next to water have many functional docks, piers, Marinas,etc. Most third world cultured places do not. Like you.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes, except the port project is not publicly funded. It’s being paid for by verdant who are being reimbursed from passenger fees. We’re not paying for it.

      • Anonymous says:

        Err passenger fees that would normally go to government. Yes, we are paying for it out of one hand and into the other.

      • Anonymous says:

        Your poor misconceived fool.

      • Anonymous says:

        9:44 aren’t those passenger fees we should be getting?

      • Anonymous says:

        And if something catastrophic happens – e.g. a terrorist attack on a cruise ship, which some see as inevitable – and the cruise markets is decimated, are you saying Verdant is going to be left holding the bill, and not the Cayman Islands?

      • Anonymous says:

        Riiight. Like how I’m not paying my mortgage because the bank (Verdant Isle) takes it straight from my pay check (landing fees) for the next 20 years (future income).

      • Anonymous says:

        You couldn’t be more wrong. Instead of passenger guarantees from the liners, the CIG have instead agreed to fund the 500,000 (and rising) passenger arrivals gap (from record 2018 2.0mln to 2.5mln) for the lifetime of project. Hundreds of millions in CIG/public purse financial commitments already inferred, without any declared performance guarantees from the liners, and we haven’t been allowed access to the fine print of the winning bid document yet.

  9. Madeleine Watler-Rowell says:

    My partner’s mother is one of the world’s leading coral biologists. I have talked to her about the port, and she and other scientists know there is no way this will work. All the reef will probably die. We shouldn’t need scientists to tell us since it is common sense but just to emphasize.

    • Anonymous says:

      But our elected representatives are like Donald Trump – they know more than any generals or scientists and we should trust them because if the port isn’t built, our whole world will fall apart. How stupid do they think we are?

  10. Anonymous says:

    Can those who want to vote NO arrange for an independent EIA to be conducted? Obviously the gov’t doesn’t want to request one b/c they know what awful truths will be revealed. Can we arrange it??

    • Anonymous says:

      Will you fund the efforts?

      • Anonymous says:

        what’s the cost? Surely CPR can muster up some funds to get it done! It’s only our kids and future generation’s environment that’s at stake!

    • x says:

      maybe set up a GoFundMe page.

    • Anonymous says:

      The current EIA and EAB says it’s a disaster already!! Nobody needs to do an independent study. They reduced the coral removal down to a little over 10 acres so 10 football fields flat surface- then go down 20 feet. As Bernie Bush said, pieces of coral the size of the LA assembly DUH.

      Man-made Environmental Assassination- a really simple thing to understand.

      RCL and Carnival XXXX will own this port once they have completed their take over using our head tax to do it.

      Why are our people so dumb. Oh that’s right, no money spent to educate our people, keep them dumb so you can control the greed. Or worse yet, our government is dumb!


  11. Anonymous says:

    In suspect the reality of the coral location is that it’s just (to quote one outspoken proponent of the dock) all a ‘red herring’. We’ll get a lot of promises then, when the work starts, it will all be shelved because it’s not viable.

    The cruise line partners won’t put any money into it for one very simple reason – there’s no profit in it for them. Forget all the arguments, get used to the fact that it isn’t going to happen. If (more likely when now) the dock is built the coral will just be wiped out.

  12. Kurt Christian says:

    Vote No

  13. Anonymous says:

    Do we really need a study to inform us that: Spending millions to relocate doomed coral from the Cutter Suction Dredge Zone to the adjacent Suspended Particulate Death Zone is not going to be any better for that marine life?!? How dumb are we?!?

    • SSM345 says:

      I want to know who is getting the $20M+ that our Govt has earmarked foo this doomed failure. Anyone know who the “relocation” experts are?

  14. Anonymous says:

    So these fools expect to relocate thousand year old coral heads that are 50 – 100ft in size? What? Are they going to use that crane ship to do it? They’ll need to unless they plan to take just cuttings like they are dealing with a tree and make a whole bunch of baby coral heads with it. What a bunch of morons.

    • Anonymous says:

      8:25 In all fairness an individual coral head does not reach 50-100ft in length (at least not in the area that they want to relocate). The entire reef system can span that length and wider. But your other point is correct. You would still need heavy machinery to move the bigger colonies as no diver could move a large brain coral by sheer man power. that and the movement of the coral would likely end in the death of the coral. It is a foolish endeavour that will result in allot of natural beauty and thousands of years of growth. I am completely and utterly against this idea.

    • Anonymous says:

      Consider this: 80% of relocated coral die within the first year. So it’s all going to be one big murder of our beautiful coral just so some people can get rich.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Why is it the once duly elected in the LA, our representatives lose basic common sense and the inability it listen to others ? Once the damage is done we cannot repair it. The risks are too high and the lost too tremendous to just proceed and see what happens. Bigger does not mean better and it does not mean more sales etc. I have seen first hand how these cruise ship passengers debate over a $5 souvenir. I have been on cruises where passengers do not come off at the port etc. We cannot forget about our dive tourist who come here and spend money to experience the beauty of our natural dive sites. Why is the dive operators so silent ?

    • Anonymous says:

      Almost all of the dive staff on the island are not Caymanian and therefore they do not have a voice to be heard and do not have a vote against this travesty. That’s why we are silent – our opinion is not asked for and we are criticized for giving it. We’ve been told by Caymanians to mind our own business and not interfere. They don’t need no white man telling them what to do and how to run their country apparently. So sad to see such a rich natural asset being sold to make just a few rich people even richer.

    • Anonymous says:

      Why? Simple. Pure unadulterated ignorance paired with personal agendas and GREED. Also the love of power.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Why not just get some big fat politicians and big fat businessmen to tell big fat lies about it so we can all fee good about going to hell in a handbasked?

  17. Anonymous says:

    VOTE NO! We need more research and this project is being rushed whilst the government is not being transparent!

  18. Anonymous says:

    Absolutely amazing. Despite our many successes as a territory, our consistent failure is a lack of support for forward thinking national infrastructure projects. Even when it is at positive net gain all round with environmental impacts minimised and mitigated. Those against the Port have effectively convinced a segment of the population that there must be perfect guarantees and we don’t need a modern port after all. Exactly that is the case today (but will change in the future) and it was exactly the case when the government of Linford Pierson proposed to start building a modern transportation network which is finally being built decades too late and at many times the cost and the new hospital that Ezzard Miller proposed to build and was shelved instead for a more costly expansion of the existing hospital which is in a flood zone and aircraft flight path to boot. Both gentlemen will remember how misinformation was spread to agitate the population against those projects. Ezzard in particular should know better as some wise elders claimed that he was building in a pond only to be proven wrong later. BTW I don’t need to claim that I have spoken to a “multigenerational Caymanian” as my entire family and myself are and we are supporting the Cruise and Cargo port. While our livihoods do not directly depend on the port we recognize that it is in the best national interest. Thank you for reading my post and thank you CNS for the opportunity to express my opinion.

    • Anonymous says:

      Tell me again, how far up your backside did you go to pull this comment?

      • Anonymous says:

        Judging from the obscene personal insults in the above post, 12:24 am scored a bulls eye to elicit that sort of reaction from 8:33. Very interesting…

        • Anonymous says:

          Sorry, I read “While our livihoods do not directly depend on the port we recognize that it is in the best national interest.” and deemed the comment BS, as it is not in our best national interest. No one can say that factually with the limited information available.

    • Anonymous says:

      Thank you for expressing your opinion but I implore you to vote No on this port. There is no evidence that the port is needed and worth the environmental impact. This will be the biggest mistake Cayman ever makes if this goes through.

      I’m all for a cruise port, but not in GT and definitely not at the cost of $450 million and most the money going to help special interest. This is the wrong deal at the wrong time in the wrong place.

    • Anonymous says:

      No, those FOR the Port have not convinced me that their maths adds up. We’ll pay more than we gain. You want my support for the Port? Publish the numbers that show how much ‘extra’ income is expected minus how much we expect to loose (loss of tourism in the harbour area, etc., etc., etc.). And how.when we are going to pay for the other tourism infrastructure ugrades which the studies recommended as being more important to tourism than building the cruise dock.

      Then publish the numbers on how much the cargo Port is going to cost vs how much its going to save the country.

      Can’t do it? Then I smell snake oil.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Oh hush…this port deal was done years ago. We cannot stop it.. makes no difference if we vote or not.

    • Anonymous says:

      By the lack of intellect in your comment, I can make a pretty good guess you were PUSHED through the public education system.

      • Anonymous says:

        LOL Good response, however, the very sad part is that 9:37pm speaks the truth. We all know this for a fact. We all know that money has changed hands behind the backs of corrupt and unscrupulous people that you are meant to trust to do what’s best for the people, the environment that we must protect and the island as a whole.
        But I am still going to do everything in my power to keep it from happening.

        Move the cargo port OUT OF GT. And take the cruise berth project with it.

        BUT first you need to sort out your traffic infrastructure!!!!!

        • Anonymous says:

          But we don’t want it in Breakers

          • Anonymous says:

            Right! And “No Dump in Bodden Town!” Let’s keep George Town, the capital of our territory and the key place for our economy in terms of both financial services and tourism, as screwed up with an ever-growing pile of toxic waste and horrendous traffic problems as possible. It makes perfect sense, as long as they keep the realities of progress out of my backyard!

      • Anonymous says:

        8:33 am that you?

    • Anonymous says:

      You must be a lot of fun at parties…

    • Anonymous says:

      Prove it. Go out and vote

  20. Anonymous says:

    Maybe they can get some coral from Beach Bay.

  21. Anonymous says:

    We have to save the wreck! Because scrap steel all over the ocean floor is good for nature! # please…. sink a new one.

    • Anonymous says:

      You might want to read up a bit on artificial reefs before making stupid comments like that 7:53. Those so called “sheets” of steel have coral growing on them and many organisms like lobster and eels use the sheets as hiding places. So yeah.. they are good for nature bobo

  22. Anonymous says:

    How does the Trust feel about the threat to turtle nesting beaches in Beach Bay?

    • Anonymous says:

      The Trust made it very clear what their position is on the Beach Bay development – they are against building on the beach because of the Turtle nesting … Why are you trying to confuse the issue.? Cant provide any other argument on the Port perhaps?

      • Anonymous says:

        Simply put, The Trust has lost some people’s trust, and that’s the sort of thing that you don’t get back overnight.

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