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Vessel damages Belize’s reef

A vessel owned by Coral Tours Belize Limited ran aground with eight tourists on board at about 4:30 Friday evening. The tourists were safely removed by the Belize Coast Guard, but the vessel remains grounded on the reef. Love News spoke with Kenrick Gordon, an Environmental Officer at the Department of the Environment.  According to Gordon, the department is in the process of removing the vessel and an assessment will be carried out.
Kenrick Gordon, Environmental Officer, Department of Environment

Kenrick Gordon, Environmental Officer, Department of Environment: “There are damage to coral formation. We cannot do an official assessment as yet, what we’ve looked at so far is just the percentage cover of the coral and the health and the state. Until the vessel is removed from the reef then we will do an official assessment to know what exactly is the damage. That hasn’t been done at this time because we are in the process of trying to remove the vessel from off the reef. It’s a 32 foot double hull catamaran vessel. It’s in an area called Coral Garden it’s halfway between San Pedro and Caye Caulker.”

According to Merlene Martinez, Ports Commissioner, while the vessel is licensed, investigation is being conducted to see whether the captain was in compliance.
Merlene Martinez, Ports Commissioner

Merlene Martinez, Ports Commissioner: “At this point in time it’s very new in our investigation so we really can’t say exactly. Our investigator went out there on Saturday but it’s just the beginning of the investigation so it would be premature to say ‘well this was a factor’. We do have a question as to whether the master or the captain was in compliance and that is something we are also looking into because for a master you have certain categories of vessels that they can operate and so our initial review is suggesting that he did not have the level of experience and authorization but we are looking into that.”

Gordon added that charges can be levied for damage to the reef.