Charges relating to coral damage at Eden Rock are not being proceeded with, court records show.

A cargo ship’s owner and management company were charged along with the ship captain in connection with an incident in the harbour area on November 25, 2016.

Specifically, they were charged that they “directly or indirectly cut, carved, injured, displaced or broke underwater coral, plant growth or formation.”

A news report at the time identified the cargo vessel as the 328-foot Saga, owned by Risley Ltd., managed by Novus Shipping OU and captained at the time by Oleksandr Marchenko.

The allegation was that the ship damaged a coral reef in the harbour when it was leaving the dock after depositing its goods.

The charges were laid on May 2, 2017, and the matter first came to Summary Court in October 2017. Several mentions and legal arguments followed. In March 2018, Magistrate Grace Donalds ruled that the captain and the management company had not been properly served. The Crown indicated that a case would be proceeded with against the ship’s owner, Risley, which is registered in Seychelles. Attorney James Austin-Smith represented the defendants.

Mentions and updates continued until March 13, 2019. On that date, Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions Candia James-Malcolm asked that charges against all defendants be left on file.

This procedure means that the charges are not being pursued at this time and the defendants may apply for them to be dismissed after a passage of time.

James-Malcolm told Magistrate Donalds of the “very impressive” efforts made by the defendants to ensure coral recovery. The magistrate agreed and made the order to leave the charges on file.

The Cayman Compass carried a story in December 2016, that quoted an officer from the Department of Environment as saying that the ship’s owners had hired Polaris Applied Science to survey the damage. That report indicated that the ship’s owners and operators had been “very cooperative” with the department: “They have been instructed to give us every consideration, and they have.”

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