Reef was damaged by Carnival Magic anchor
Carnival Cruise Lines has stepped up with a $100,000 donation to support the restoration of a section of coral reef that was severely damaged by one of its cruise ship anchors.
The cruise line maintains it was mistakenly directed to anchor at the site, about 650 feet outside the designated anchorage, by the Port Authority’s licensed pilot.
They say the pledge – described as an initial donation – is a gesture of goodwill that shows how much Carnival values the marine environment.
“We hugely value the beautiful reefs and pristine environment that make the Cayman Islands so extraordinary,” said Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Lines.
“When you consider that coral reefs cover less than 0.2 percent of the ocean floor, we understand the paramount importance of preserving and protecting them.”
The donation marks the first time any of the three parties involved in the incident has made an effort to support the community volunteer project that has been going on for the past six months. Neither the Port Authority nor Bodden Shipping, the other two parties involved, has made any comment since the incident on Aug. 27 last year.
Volunteers have put in hundreds of man-hours salvaging live coral from the rubble and are now beginning the painstaking process of reattaching it to the reef using marine epoxy. Experts say the project could take several years.
A fundraiser on Friday raised $28,000 to help sustain the effort.
A report on the accident, prepared by the Department of Environment in November, said the cost of the damage to the reef could run to millions of dollars. The department recommended that government seek voluntary donations rather than pursuing a criminal investigation, which it said would be a lengthy and costly process.
Tourism Minister Moses Kirkconnell, who met with Carnival Cruise Line executives in February, commended the cruise line for its willingness to collaborate in the conservation project.
He said, “The Cayman Islands government is appreciative of this gesture which has been provided in good faith by a most valued tourism partner. This initial pledge to provide funding will assist the important work being undertaken on the reef, which is largely a community effort by teams of dedicated volunteers whose primary motivation is to conserve our island’s spectacular marine environment.”
Environment Minister Wayne Panton said, “The Ministry thanks Carnival for this initial donation and we welcome their continuing partnership with us on this critical restoration work.”