One of George Town’s most popular snorkelling sites, the Wreck of the Cali in the harbour, is now off limits to snorkellers and divers unless they get special permission from the Port Authority.
Under new regulations which removed the marine park designation from that area of the harbour, the Cali site is now within a location that is zoned solely as a port anchorage area.
The regulations, along with others that expanded Cayman’s marine parks, were gazetted last week.
Port Director Joey Woods told the Cayman Compass in an email last week, “The Cali falls within the Port Anchorage Area and anyone wishing to dive it will now require approval from Port Security to dive it.”
Previously, snorkellers or divers would access the site freely, without requiring official permission, either by the Divers Down dock beside Casanova restaurant or from the ladder at the back of Rackam’s bar.
However, visitors to the site must now receive permission beforehand, just as they would to visit the wreck of the Balboa, a 375-foot freighter that sank in 1932, which is situated immediately in front of the port.
The Cali was a cargo ship carrying 30,000 bags of rice that ran ashore in 1948.
Speaking at a press briefing on Friday, 19 March, Woods said that the marine park and port anchorage areas had overlapped for many years, leading to confusion for those bringing vessels into the harbour. He said that, in liaison with the Department of Environment, areas that traditionally were used for anchoring were now designated solely as an anchorage zone, and areas containing large areas of coral were included in the marine park site.
He said the anchorage zone and the marine park area would be clearly marked so that users could tell which was which. He added that having a specific anchorage zone, monitored and operated by the Port Authority, would mean the area would be safer for all users, including boat operators, swimmers, snorkellers and divers.
“For people who are diving or swimming in the marine park area, they will have boundaries set so they know when they are leaving marine park and entering into the anchorage area,” Woods said. “We want to prevent people from being injured or killed if they venture into the anchorage area where … there is vessel traffic.”
Woods said the area outlined for use as an anchorage area was now smaller than it had been previously, as before the regulations came into force, it ran from “beyond Eden Rock all the way to nearly Treasure Island, from shore to past the drop-off”.
He said in the new zoning map, Eden Rock and the shoreline area from north of the Royal Watler Terminal to Treasure Island (now called Palmar Beach Resort) fall within the marine park area and are no longer in an anchorage zone.
Anyone who wishes to seek permission to access the Cali or Balboa can the Port Security office on VHF 16 or on 914-3700.