Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Belize Aggressor still stuck at Lighthouse Reef

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The Belize Aggressor IV, a 115-foot-long yacht, remains stuck near Lighthouse Reef Atoll, after it ran aground in the Aquarium dive site a week ago. The Belize Port Authority (BPA) is investigating the incident, while the boat’s management is preparing a salvage plan to remove it from this sensitive area covered with coral reef. After that, the Department of the Environment (DOE) will conduct a damage assessment.
The vessel drifted onto the reef and became stuck during a dive trip on Thursday, November 16th. The Belize Coast Guard rescued its 20 passengers/divers and staff crew. As of Wednesday, November 22nd, the DOE team had not conducted a damage assessment. According to a representative from DOE, an assessment can only be done after the yacht is removed. While the vessel’s owner is working on a plan to remove the diving boat safely, the DOE and Fisheries Department must approve the plan first.
The BPA’s Ports Commissioner, Darlin Gaitan, said that it appears the vessel’s mooring did not hold the position, and it drifted onto the corals. “From the BPA, we do a safety and criminal investigation,” said Gaitan. She said that they will see if there was any negligence. Gaitan noted that at the end of the investigation, they will present recommendations to avoid these types of incidents around the barrier reef. The BPA added that they will assign responsibility where parties will be held liable for the damages they may have caused.
The last documented boat running aground on Lighthouse Reef was in February 2022. It was a sailboat named the Jolie Brise II, with two Canadian nationals onboard. At that time, the two Canadians were taken to Half Moon Caye for assistance and later to Belize City. The BPA, the Police Department, the Immigration Department, the Department of Environment, and the Health Department took over the case. No reports were shared regarding any penalties or fines issued.

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