Despite his past work to help fund coral reef research, the owner of both the Portland Trail Blazers and the Seattle Seahawks now stands accused of destroying up to 14,000 square feet of a Cayman Islands reef with his 300-foot luxury yacht.
As reported by the Cayman News Service, government officials say that on January 14 the anchor chain of Paul Allen’s yacht, the MV Tatoosh, dragged across a reef in the Cayman’s West Bay replenishment zone.
The yacht reportedly caused “extensive damage” with the chain smashing up to “80 percent of the coral in the area.”
The Cayman’s Department of Environment is still assessing the full damage.
“In addition to assessing the damage and determining the cause of this incident, we are also paying close attention to lessons learned so that we can more effectively prevent these accidents while still hosting visiting yachts,” a DoE spokesman said in a statement.
The Microsoft co-founder is not immediately taking the blame for the damage, but instead says he and his crew followed all the Cayman Port Authority’s instructions on where and how to anchor the vessel. Allen also notes that when winds shifted his crew moved the boat in an attempt to avoid damaging the area.
NBC News reports the yacht is the 49th largest such vessel in the world and has five decks staffed by 30 crewmen.
Allen has a history of donating money to protect and study reefs. Last August it was reported that Allen’s Vulcan Inc. sponsored a $4 million project for reef research in Hawaii and Australia. At that time, Allen’s Vulcan Inc. released a statement saying, “If coral reefs continue to decline due to warmer, more acidic ocean water, marine ecosystems will forever be altered with ripple effects that we don’t yet fully comprehend.”
Cayman News Service adds there have been many cases of the coral in the area being damaged by yachts and cruise ships but the government has failed to collect on any fines on sanctions for such incidents.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at firstname.lastname@example.org