Spotts cruise anchoring banned

Cruise ships can no longer anchor at Spotts Dock in Savannah.

The ban is effective from 19 April.

‘Because of the damage to living coral reefs caused by ships’ anchors at Spotts, cruise ships are no longer allowed to anchor at this location,’ said Port Authority Director Paul Hurlston in a press release.

Chain link

A cruise ships chain link killing coral. Photo: Submitted

The Department of Environment has recorded that one cruise ship anchoring for one day destroys nearly an acre of previously intact reef.

Port Authority Manager Cruise Operations and Security Joseph Woods said that on the advice of the Department of Environment that there was coral damage in the Spotts Bay area from cruise ships’ anchors a collaborative effort was made by the Ministry of Environment, the DoE and the Port Authority to address the issue.

However, it is possible for ships to stay in Spotts Bay without anchoring, explains DoE’s Research Office John Bothwell in the release.

‘Modern technology enables cruise ships to stay in position on engines when in harbour. The ships can simply hold position and the tenders can come to them,’ he said.

Cruise ships call at Spotts when seas are too rough in George Town.

There are only four anchorages sites in George Town Harbour, which means when six ships are in port two must remain at engine.

This does require burning up more fuel, but Mr. Woods said no cruise lines have complained.

DoE officials say that although much coral in the Spotts Bay area is damaged, there are some spots that are still healthy.

‘Over the years the Department of Environment has documented the damage to reefs by cruise-ship anchors and chains in the Spotts area,’ Mr. Bothwell noted. ‘Because cruise ships are the biggest vessels to use the area regularly, their chains tend to cause a lot of the damage. We have recorded that one cruise anchoring for one day destroys 0.8 of an acre of previously intact reef.’

It is understood that a ban had been in place previously on anchoring in the area.

Mr. Hurlston could not be reached by press time to answer when the previous ban was in place, and if, when or why it had been lifted.

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