Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Belize Aggressor removed from Lighthouse Reef; damage assessment commences

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The diving vessel Belize Aggressor IV, which was stuck at Lighthouse Reef, has finally been removed. The Belize Port Authority (BPA) said on Monday, November 27th, that the vessel was successfully refloated after being grounded near the Aquarium Dive Site for around ten days. An in-depth assessment of the damage to the coral reef is now underway. Following that, a fine will be assessed for the damage caused by the diving vessel.
The BPA said that when the 115-foot diving yacht ran aground within the Lighthouse Reef Atoll, it carried 17 passengers and eight crew members onboard. Initial investigations from the BPA revealed that the Belize Aggressor IV was moored for a diving trip but drifted after the mooring line broke, causing the boat to run aground on the reef. According to reports, no one was injured. After receiving assistance from the Belize Coast Guard, a Caye Caulker tour operator transported the passengers and crew to a safe area.
Over the years, the BPA and Fisheries Department have dealt with similar incidents involving boats running aground on the reef. Among the several reports of large vessels stuck on the reef, in February 2020, the Government of Belize reportedly issued a BZ$150,000 fine to the operators of a yacht called Samahdi. The luxurious vessel’s anchor destroyed live corals at the Lighthouse Reef Aquarium Dive Site.

Samahdi

At the time of the incident, the company managing the yacht, Wright Maritime Group, admitted that the vessel’s anchor had inadvertently dragged through the corals while moored on a patch of sand. This baffled environmental authorities a bit, as the area is dotted with mooring points to safeguard the fragile ecosystem in the vicinity.
Government officials have not confirmed if the fine was paid, and the previous government administration issued the fee.
Lighthouse Reef is home to the world-famous Great Blue Hole, and its corals are considered some of the best-developed and healthiest in the Caribbean region. The area is a popular snorkelling and diving destination, boasting some of the best diving sites in Belize and the Caribbean.

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