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Feb 3, 2015

OCEANA Assesses Damage to Reef Caused By Grounded Sailboat

For over a month now, a boat, a steel hull vessel, has been aground on the reef near the island of Caye Caulker. Word spread like wildfire in early January about the incident, but weeks later, no one has been fingered for the accident at sea. OCEANA in Belize for years now has been working to protect the reef and at the request of residents from Caye Caulker, the organization took a team out to sea to investigate the incident. On January twenty-ninth, marine scientist, Doctor Isani Chan led an expedition with OCEANA’s videographer, Alexander Ellis and project assistant, Alain Alexis, to the site of the incident to conduct an assessment of the damage. News Five spoke with Doctor Chan today about the what they found at sea.

 

Isani Chan

Dr. Isani Chan, Marine Scientist, OCEANA

“Our office here in Belize had been notified that there was a boat had ran aground off the channel in Caye Caulker. So, we put together a team and we went out to evaluate to see what the damage was and where was the boat basically located. We gathered some information from the guys of Caye Caulker that the vessel has been there since December thirty-first, 2014. We have contacted a number of entities in relations for these guys to remove the vessel. At the present moment, the department of environment and fisheries has already done their assessment. We are urging all parties to basically move a little bit faster and this is in relation to the various species of corals that is presently within that specific location. To just explain a little further, we know that the whole process that coral go through in growth in which their calcium carbonate take quite a long time for them to grow. So we would just basically encourage all parties for them to remove the vessel as fast as they could because the damage that could be done or have already been done could also be limited if the process is done a little faster.”

 

Duane Moody

“As a Marine Biologist, what can you tell us about what you saw as the threat that is happening there in that area where the boat aground?”

 

Dr. Isani Chan

“Well, what happened is that the boat has missed the channel and it has ended up in a location where the vessel cannot move forward. They will basically need the proper equipment and the proper technology for them to remove the vessel. We have gathered information that the vessel is steel hulse vessel, which is in local terms is metal, so it’s quite difficult for them to remove this vessel. We have gathered some info that there are local contractors that have been contacted and they are awaiting information to remove the vessel and they are just waiting for the go ahead from Department of Environment and like-wise Fisheries Department.”

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