Paul Allen and the Cayman Islands continue to feud over coral reef damage

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Microsoft’s co-founder Paul Allen is currently in troubled waters. As we told you a few weeks ago, Allen is being held responsible for his massive 300-foot yacht destroying 14,000 square feet of coral reef in Cayman Islands protected territory, but Allen (who wasn’t on board during the time of the incident) has been defending himself by explaining that it’s the fault of local port officials who told the boat’s crew where to position the boat. According to a new report from the Seattle P-I, Paul Allen and the Cayman Islands are still arguing about Allen’s responsibility and repair plans to coral reef damage.

While Allen’s camp explained last week in a news release that “extensive past and recent damage to this same reef, as a result of other incidents that were not remediated, makes it difficult to determine what, if any, actual damage was caused by the Tatoosh”, Cayman Islands government responded the following day:

“Marine experts have begun salvage work to repair the extensive damage to corals off Seven Mile Beach by the anchor chain of billionaire Paul Allen’s yacht, MV Tatoosh, last month. While Allen’s company, Vulcan Inc., is disputing their level of culpability and the course of action for the repair, the Department of Environment has received a comprehensive assessment of the injury site by an independent coral restoration expert and is pressing on regardless, stressing the imperative of quick action to save as much coral as possible.”

Allen’s company Vulcan Inc. responded back with an ambiguous statement, questioning the authorities willingness to execute the remediation plan:

“We continue to impress on the Department the urgency of approving the full remediation plan so that work may continue. The department has yet to do so, despite the clear agreement between the experts on almost all technical aspects, and thereby delaying repair of the coral. We are ready and willing to continue the work of the last two days and are hopeful the remediation plan can now be promptly approved and implemented in the same spirit of collaboration and cooperation as was demonstrated over the past two days.”

Then, Cayman Islands authorities tried to clarify the issue in their last statement:

“Given that Vulcan Inc., the owner of the MV Tatoosh, disputes the DoE’s initial assessment of the scale of the damage, and furthermore questions whether the MV Tatoosh is the source of the damage, the DoE contracted with Dial Cordy to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the injured site. We took this action in order to have independent documentation and verification of the extent and degree of damage and also of the timing of the injuries to the coral. Mr Precht’s findings support the DoE’s initial assessment as to the damaged area and the cause of the damage.”

It’s not easy to see through the mud here, folks, as we don’t know if Allen’s camp is trying to negotiate a way out of this mess in the background. Allen, who is actively working to save endangered species and improve ocean health, could well see his reputation being damaged if Cayman Islands authorities continue to assert that his yacht is responsible of coral damage. We’ll continue to follow along as the Microsoft co-founder struggles with Cayman Islands authorities, but let’s just hope that the coral reef, which is the real victim here, will be able to heal from its injuries.

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