Cancun, Q.R. – Over the past 10 years, the National Commission of Natural Protected Areas (CONANP) has recorded 12 boat strandings along the Xcalak reefs.
A look back over records showed that more than half of the strandings were due to drunk boat captains.
Maria del Carmen Garcia Rivas, current director of the Natural Protected Area (ANP) Contoy Island Park, who was previously director of Xcalak, said, “I took the files, and with the Attorney General’s Office (PGR) and the Federal Attorney for Environmental Protection (Profepa), we detected that some people were noted as being in a state with alcohol on their breath.”
Other reasons for the strandings are the lack of permanent signage in the reef areas; signage that can be recognized by all visitors. Also, in other cases, the boats were not in good condition and simply drifted into the areas and became grounded.
The National Commission of Natural Protected Areas (CONANP) said that over the past 11 years, more than 40 groundings have taken place, of which, half have occurred in the state of Quintana Roo.
The first significant mishap recorded along the Quintana Roo coast was the vessel Cozumel II, who back in 2002, caused massive damage to more than five hectares of Biosphere Reserve Banco Chinchorro reef. The second largest negative reef impact was the Norwegian cruise ship, Leeward, who in 2007, damaged two hectares.
Given such circumstances, Conanp is now requesting that all vessels entering Mexican territory have liability insurance, as well, in case of a grounding, the ability to restore damaged coral on their own.
There are corals that grow at least four centimeters each year, although it depends on the currents and the amount of nutrients they receive, however, when the ecosystem is damaged by grounding, it takes up to 100 years to recover.