Cuban ship “Melody”, loaded with ballast for the Tren Maya Project, damaged protected coral reefs in Quintana Roo

Photo: Periodico Quequi

The ship ‘Melody’ loaded with 20,000 tons of porphyrite from Cuba, which will serve as ballast for the Tren Maya, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s flagship project, damaged with its anchor a coral zone located between two protected natural areas in Puerto Morelos, denounced diver and underwater videographer Alberto Friscione.

Puerto Morelos, Quintana Roo (March 19, 2023).-In an interview with EFE, he explained that during a tour he made, accompanied by a friend, he detected that the maneuvers to anchor the ship caused damage to several coral specimens that are protected by Mexican law.

Photo: La Jornada Maya

“We went to dive precisely the anchor, the water was beautiful and we were just curious because the area where the boat anchored is a permitted area for anchoring, it is an area that divides the reefs of Puerto Morelos and the Gran Caribe reserve,” he said.

“There are always sponges, brain corals, staghorn corals, there are several types of corals that are protected by law,” he added.

As he explained, the problem arose when the anchor was dropped, which he believes was due to the lack of supervision of the maneuvers in process.

“When they dropped the anchor, it fell on top of many gorgonians, they dropped the entire chain for several meters and as the ship drifted, the chain moved and began to break the few or many corals that were there,” he explained.

“This problem would have been eliminated if they had asked some of the people from Puerto Morelos to go check where the anchor was going to be dropped and we would have avoided this problem,” he explained.

Alberto Friscione pointed out that when the damage to the corals was made public, the vessel “Melody” was removed from the affected area and is currently near the island of Cozumel.

“The ship was moved to an area, now assigned by CONANP (National Commission of Natural Protected Areas) where there is a larger sandy area and there are much fewer species than in the place where it was previously,” he said.

He pointed out that through various channels they are in the process of filing the corresponding complaints for the environmental damage, in which they seek to officially establish if the anchor caused affectations within some of the natural protected areas in the zone.

“One natural protected area is called Puerto Morelos reefs and has been decreed for many years, and the other area is called the Gran Caribe Mexicano reserve. The two are almost united. The Gran Caribe Mexicano reserve is very large, covering many hectares of sea and beach,” he explained.

He commented that they were able to identify damaged species such as brain coral, cookie coral, a barrel sponge and many patches with different species of corals.

“If any of us are seen touching one of these corals, they would almost put you in jail and it is not possible for them to arrive and drop the anchor voluntarily or involuntarily and cause the destruction we saw just now,” he said.

Friscione recalled that they recently participated in a project to plant “almost 2,000 little pieces of coral”.

“It is fascinating to go and see them, we returned happy that one had grown a centimeter, half a centimeter, that others were alive, and it feels horrible that you are trying to save life from the sea only to have someone arrive and destroy it just because they have to bring stone from Cuba,” he lamented.

“I can’t believe that in these modern times we are still hurting nature in such a way, I really can’t believe it, and all because of the Mayan Train project,” he said.

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