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Mar 11, 2015

Boat Aground Since December 2014

On December thirty-first 2014, a French captain crashed his steel hull vessel into the reef near some coral rubble when he missed the channel near Caye Caulker. Late January, an OCEANA team headed by marine scientist, Doctor Isani Chan, visited the site to conduct an assessment of the damage. Doctor Chan advised that the vessel be removed professionally and with haste because the fluctuating tide and waves could push the vessel into living corals in proximity. Several attempts had been made to remove the thirty-five-foot vessel that is stuck in approximately five feet of water. And on February fifth, the Ministry of Forestry, Fisheries and Sustainable Development told News Five that it had activated an emergency response protocol which involved the mobilization of the Port Authority, the Fisheries Department and the Department of Environment. That response protocol was to see the vessel removed. But up to today, the boat has still not been removed and residents on Caye Caulker as well as environmentalists continue to express concern about the potential damage to the reef. We spoke to OCEANA’s VP, Janelle Chanona, who confirms that the vessel continues to sit on coral. For context, here’s C.E.O. Adele Catzim-Sanchez on the status of the vessel.


Via Phone: Adele Catzim-Sanchez, C.E.O., Ministry of Forestry, Fisheries and Sustainable Development [File: February 5th, 2015]

“In this case, we found out that the ship which was captained by a French national, had gone aground on the reef area. Since we activated the protocol, we’ve been actively involved in a process for getting the vessel off the reef. So we’ve been going out to the area since the first of January and we’ve made several attempts to get it off the reef. We are now at the point of engaging the services of some professionals, so we have a company that is doing some additional work to get the vessel off the reef by this weekend. The process according to response protocol, the process is one first to ensure safety of personnel. So the first thing we did was ensured that everyone was safe. Secondly it was to ensure safety of the environment and to do that, we have to do an assessment; however, the assessment is incomplete because we have to get the vessel off the reef before we can complete the full assessment of the damage that has been caused. The third level in the protocol is to then protect property. And so we have been trying our best to not interfere with the integrity of the vessel itself, but we found that that has been difficult. So we are now making the required adjustment in our plan to make sure that we get the vessel off.”


Janelle Chanona

Janelle Chanona, VP, OCEANA Belize

“Yes Duane, as part of Reef Week, the WUB Krem Wake Up Belize Morning Show is in Caye Caulker, broadcasting live. So I was in Caye Caulker yesterday and yes, the boat is still firmly lodged in the same spot it was moved to. And yes, we are still getting concerns both from our environmental partners out there and concerned Caye Caulker residents in general just saying we really want to see this boat removed and make sure that it doesn’t threaten the live coral patches that are nearby. So yes, we stand ready, willing and able to help make that happen because it is a blight…I mean, you can still see it. And I know, you had done some interviews that there were plans ongoing and so hopefully that happens soon.”

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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