Just last week representatives of UNESCO were in the country conducting a survey on the World Heritage Site as Belize could lose its world heritage status for not taking care of its Great Barrier Reef. To add insult to injury, a luxury yacht anchored on the reef right in front of San Pedro Town in the popular dive site, Esmeralda, causing more damage to our precious Barrier Reef.
The vessel, named Azteca, was spotted on Tuesday, April 7, and with the quick response of authorities, the San Pedro Police, Hol Chan Marine Reserve Officials and the Department of Environment were off to access the situation.
According to official reports the boat captain, Salvador Villerias Eckart, 49-year-old, Mexican of Acapulco, reported that they were travelling from Cozumel, Mexico en route to Livingston, Guatemala when a rope at the rear of the boat caught on the propellers.
Villerias stated that as they were approaching the reef, they lost control of the boat and to prevent crashing into the reef the order was given to drop anchor. At the time he wasn’t aware that they were over a very popular dive site. The anchors ripped through a large area of coral reef before coming to a standstill.
According to Hol Chan representatives the damages might be extensive as the area affected was about 45 x 28 sq. ft. where the anchor and chain dragged at the bottom of the coral reef floor. The strong north winds did not help the situation as it made the boat sway back and forth causing even more damage.
The Department of Environment is looking into the damage caused and the court will be the one to decide the fines that will be levied upon the owner of the vessel. Reports are that the owner of the yacht is the owner of TV Azteca from Mexico and that the Mexican Embassy along with Foreign Affairs have taken over the matter, but they have promised to pay for the damage that they have caused to the reef.