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Feb 3, 2015

Potential Impact of Grounded Vessel Discussed

Belize has the second largest barrier reef in the world and is considered part of a world heritage site. The steel hull sailboat measures at approximately thirty-five feet in length and sits in approximately five feet of water in low tide. While the sailboat is currently lodged on coral “rubble”, increased wave action could push the vessel into living coral and poses a serious threat to the ecosystem. Subsequent efforts for an independent contractor to safely remove the vessel without causing further damage from the site have so far proved unsuccessful. Doctor Chan also spoke of the damage to the reef and the need for swift action to have the vessel removed.

 

Isani Chan

Dr. Isani Chan, Marine Scientist, OCEANA

“What we have identified is that the boat has rest mostly on coral rubbles, but removing the boat would be another issue. We do hope that they would get the proper supervision and the proper equipment for them to remove the vessel to prevent more damage that can occur. There are different species of corals that go through different levels of calcification and there are different rocks that are present. At the specific moment, I guess there were previous contractors that tried to move the vessel and it ended up on rocks. So at the present moment, the vessel is not resting on the coral reef specifically, but removing it will basically be another story in which is can contribute to various, different species of coral being damaged. They have been different contractors that went out to try to remove the vessel, but I guess they didn’t have the proper equipment for them to remove the vessel because it is quite heavy and quite huge. So the longer it stays within that environment of course the repercussion will be very harsh and the different species of organism that live within that area will be also at jeopardy as well.”

 

The Department of the environment has since been notified that the vessel is dangerously close to living coral and that action needs to be taken to prevent further damage to the reef.

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