Verdant: moving coral won’t fully mitigate impact

| 14/10/2019 | 27 Comments
Cayman News Service
Coral reef within George Town Harbour (Photo by Courtney Platt)

(CNS): The consortium picked by government to build the controversial cruise berthing project has admitted that plans to relocate and cultivate coral will not fully mitigate the impact of the project on the marine environment. Although members of Verdant Isle expressed high confidence earlier this month that moving the pristine ancient coral from George Town Harbour will be a great success, they have now conceded it can never really mitigate the loss.

Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, a spokesperson for Verdant Isle said that they would be conducting a “relocation” programme to try and save some of the critically endangered corals in the area and were optimistic about plans for “coral gardening”, but admitted that would not save it all.

“It is clear that coral relocation will never completely mitigate impacts of proposed projects,” they told the UK-based newspaper.

The cruise line have now come under fire from a number of international charities about this project, given that in recent years the companies have supposedly committed to “ensure the long-term health of the oceans”. But they are now about to dredge acres of ancient, pristine coral for this berthing facility, which the president of Royal Caribbean has stated is all about the cruise lines’ convenience as tendering “is a bother”.

Charlie Butt, Caribbean Territories Manager for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), said it is “difficult to believe” that the companies would back the project if they understood the true environmental impact. The RSPB is concerned the plans would lead to a “net loss of globally threatened wildlife”, such as critically endangered turtles.

“Whilst we welcome the sustainability commitments of the two cruise liner companies involved, it is difficult to believe that they would consider backing this plan if they knew that at least 15 acres of world-class coral reefs — one of the Cayman Islands’ main tourist attractions — would be permanently lost as a result,” he said.

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

Comments (27)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Watch this latest episode “BOAT LIFE: Plane Wreck Diving & Spearfishing, while Grandma Babysits! Ep.219” to remain yourself what marine beauty is.
    Then decide how you are going to vote.

  2. Mervyn Cumber says:

    Port user is obviously not a diver or snorkeler. Eden Rock and the Wreck of the Balboa and the Cali are well visited sites and particularly for night diving. I recall in the 1960’s doing a dive with the legendary “Tom Hubbell off George Town Harbour, it was pristine and so close to shore. Yes, the anchor chains took it all, Port User should go on the Atlantis and take a look before preaching.

    • Anonymous says:

      Mr. Cumber there’s a little fact-checking necessary. What is your criterion to qualify as a “well-visited site”, when you include the Wreck of the Balboa in that description? Are you talking about back in the day in the 1960’s, or the reality nowadays?

  3. Anonymous says:

    Sad to see a respected organisation such as the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) getting hauled into a debate about which they have now exposed they actually know very little of the actual truth. Sad to see them fooled into making ill-informed statements: ““… at least 15 acres of world-class coral reefs — one of the Cayman Islands’ main tourist attractions — would be permanently lost as a result”. Sad to see that Charlie Butt, Caribbean Territories Manager for the RSPB apparently just accepted the hype that the mouth-champion activists CPR/(CNS?) fed him, then that he swallowed it and then regurgitated it without fact-checking. Sad to see that even in such a responsible position, independent “critical thinking” has apparently fallen by the wayside, run over and trampled by galloping passions unbridled by a conscience for the truth.

    • South Sounder says:

      Removing 10.3 acres of healthy coral reef is NOT a consolation prize…quite frankly it’s an insult and the government are breaking their own laws by doing so. With RSPB weighing in I see big lawsuits on the horizon. Another expensive cost to be bourne by the country…another heavy hit (and embarrassment) to the people of the Cayman Islands that can be prevented.

  4. Anonymous says:

    CPR are grabbing at straws, call that CNS and CPR can publish is emotional half truths, such as the loan amount plus the interest. Fodder for those who won’t think.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Wonder what prince Phillip is saying about this ?

  6. Port User says:

    You can’t make an omelette without first breaking the eggs. Of course, if you don’t like omelettes in the first place then you eat something else.
    All of this vague talk about coral destruction fails to specify exactly what coral is being talked about. Eden Rock, for example, is nowhere near the proposed piers; there are no dive sites in that area either. This is a harbour and has been since ships first began calling at ‘The Hogsties’; ships waiting to berth drop anchor just offshore, the cruise ships do the same and have been doing so since regular ‘cruise’ tourism’ began in the eighties.
    To repeat: There are no dive sites out where the ships anchor; whilst there may be coral patches not yet destroyed by anchor chains, no-one can go to see them.
    Building the piers will be a one-time exercise so any coral damage will not be a continuous process. If cruise ships continue to anchor then the possibility of continuing damage will always be with us.

    • Anonymous says:

      Dumbest comment I’ve read so far.

      The plan clearly shows huge areas of coral loss. Also, we have up to 8 ships at once and quite commonly 6. The dock would hold 4. They’ll still be anchoring unless we are going to ban extras. Presumably they will have to anchor off to the sides, damaging even more coral, so that mega ships can get into and out of the dock.

    • Stupid is clearly contagious... and spreading fast! says:

      And what you think the sediment will stay exactly in one geographic area right where the dredging occurs and right where the ships pull in and out and go nowhere else?

      You do understand that fluids & sediments suspended in fluids move right?
      Like from one location to another?
      For instance from a relatively barren area to nearby healthy and thriving coral structures

      Do you really need it to be spelled out this plainly for you to get it?
      Do we have to talk to you like children to get it through your thick skulls?

      Actually seeing as you said this: “Building the piers will be a one-time exercise so any coral damage will not be a continuous process”
      Despite the fact that we know even after construction is completed every time ships pull in and out the they will stir up sediment just shows ultimately you have absolutely no idea what you are talking about

      Inoculate yourself

    • Anonymous says:

      the dredging will kill Eden rock, so stop trying to be obtuce

    • Anonymous says:

      “Eden Rock, for example, is nowhere near the proposed piers; there are no dive sites in that area either.” ???
      You are either a complete liar or a complete ignoramus. You have no idea what you are talking about. Have you not seen the diagrams of the silt plumes that they have stated will spread in that area??
      Eden Rock AND Paradise right next door are two of our premier shore dives for both scuba and snorkeling. For you to say there are no dive sites in that area means you are a nincompoop that has never been snorkeling. Probably not even put more than your big toe in the sea. And apparently have never been in town when ships are in and both Eden Rock and Paradise are filled with snorkelers. Not to mention all of the other shore dives from the other side of the cruise terminal.

      • Anonymous says:

        9:26 am can you please post the webpage address of “the diagrams of the silt plumes that they have stated will spread in that area” to which you are referring above? ‘Enquiring minds want to know!’ so we want to take a look at which diagrams you’re talking about.

    • Anonymous says:

      There are however dive sites right next to the piers.

      When the piers are dredged, resulting sediment will kill all of the coral in these respective dive sites and make them wastelands…

      Take that in. One of the top 10 shore diving sites in the WORLD will be gone. And for what? Short term dollars?

      Use your brain.

      Quality over quantity. Invest in stay over tourism where people spend $10,000 a week and not $10 on a tshirt.

      If you ask me, your opinion has been bought by corrupt interests and cannot be trusted.

    • Anonymous says:

      5:09, Are you totally stupid? The silting will destroy the coral. That is just a simple fact.

  7. Anonymous says:

    How can we get the world in on this travesty? Ruin coming to fill the pockets of those who only care about the Cayman Islands for what they can get out of this destruction. This cruise dock has NOTHING to do with the betterment of the Cayman Islands!

  8. Anonymous says:

    Mitigate Definition: “To make less severe”

    Of course it will not get rid of all impact. This is just a desperate attempt to make something out of nothing.

  9. BeaumontZodecloun says:

    Of course it won’t completely mitigate the impact; did anyone imagine it would? Moreover, relocating coral is far more effective with smaller coral heads, as opposed to those magnificent expanses of coral as pictured above.

    I think we would do well to think of the cruise companies less as “partners” and more as “investors” who will take the best years of the port’s income, and leave us — waay down the line — with whatever “port life” remains. We will have no guarantees of anything, and any negative repercussions/environmental consequences will be ours alone to bear.

    As I’ve said before, I think there was a time when this project was viable, and Mr. Bush shot that in the foot. I believe that time has passed.

    Please, everyone go vote; it is one of the most important thing you can do for Cayman.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Sounds like the wheels are falling off here. The Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, has recently said that firms ignoring the climate crisis could go bankrupt as share holders and investors pull the plug on them. Whether he’s correct remains to be seen but it should serve as a warning to companies like Verdant that they are walking through a potential minefield here.


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