Money from the settlement between government and the owner of a mega-yacht that damaged coral reef in Cayman’s waters will be used to pay for a permanent mooring for large vessels at the north end of Seven Mile Beach.
Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen agreed last year to pay compensation and fund emergency reef restoration work following the incident involving his yacht, the M/Y Tatoosh.
The boat’s position shifted in strong winds, dragging its anchor across an area of coral reef inside the West Bay Replenishment Zone of the Seven Mile Beach Marine Park.
A condition of the compensation agreement was that some of the money be used to fund a sturdy mooring for large vessels in that area.
Environment Minister Wayne Panton said government is now buying materials and agreeing contracts for the installation of a permanent mooring at the north end of the Seven Mile Beach Marine Park. Once the work is completed, additional moorings will be installed using the remainder of the settlement funds.
“Final approvals for payment of the invoices were recently obtained, which means we can move forward with the moorings,” he said. “This permanent mooring will accommodate vessels up to 300 feet long, meaning it can be used by the vast majority of yachts which visit Cayman. This is an important step forward for us because it will help prevent damage to our corals and more broadly, to our marine environment, which provides so much enjoyment to us and which boosts our economy.”
Department of Environment Director Gina Ebanks-Petrie said the Port Authority of the Cayman Islands has donated the anchor for the mooring, leaving more funding to be applied to additional moorings.
“The Port Authority, as well as private sector service agents for visiting vessels, will help to identify preferred locations for future moorings, which the DoE will consider in light of environmental factors,” she said.
Government and TDE Maritime, the owner company of the M/Y Tatoosh, announced an agreement last October in relation to coral that was damaged in January 2016. The amount of compensation was not revealed and the agreement involved no admission of fault.