National Parks Authority Investigates Wind Surf Reports; No Sign of Coral Formations Close to Either of Anchor Sites
The National Parks Authority (NPA) has refuted as spurious and highly irresponsible the claims by the Observer newspaper that a cruise ship ran aground over the weekend causing damage to the reefs and seabed in the Falmouth basin.
Upon hearing the reports, the NPA wasted little time in convening a meeting of a team of its own experts and officials along with the shipping agent, Bryson’s Shipping, with a view to ascertaining the facts by carrying out a thorough investigation.
The initial inquiry was spearheaded by Head of the park’s Environment Unit Dr. Brian Cooper, upon the suggestions of Chairman of the NPA, Mr. Claude Anthony.
The ship in question, the Wind Surf, became the subject of the NPA’s investigation where it has been dropping anchor as with the previous visit. Last Sunday, February 16, Dr. Cooper along with the NPA’s Dockmaster Sherwin Mascoll and a diver went out to where the ship was docked.
The diver was able to locate the end of the ship’s anchor chain and according to Dr. Cooper’s report “there was no sign of coral formations close to either of the anchor sites.”
The two anchors the ship used were in sand.
Windstar Cruises has further confirmed that it ran into no such trouble while in Falmouth Harbour, acknowledging that there are a strict protocols to be adhered to in the event of any such incident.
“Additionally, when there was a complaint first made regarding Wind Surf’s anchorage spot, Windstar Cruises conducted a review of the anchor position and shared this information with the authorities,” the cruise line wrote in a letter to the editor of the Observer and copied to the NPA.
“The National Parks Authority also invested the anchor location, and found no problems. At all times Windstar Cruises cooperated with the local authorities.”
The NPA has a strict mandate to ensure that all areas under its oversight are protected from the various dangers that can result from certain economic activities. It is unyielding in this effort, recognizing that negative publicity can derail the efforts to ensure the sustainable development of the park and maintain this part of Antigua as a very special place in paradise.
As a result, the NPA has commited to undertake a more detailed study of the harbour bottom to determine if repeated anchoring in the area would be likely to have negative environmental consequences or impact negatively nearby communities.
It is therefore urging members of the media to act more responsibly by getting all sides of the story before publishing one side as facts.