Foreign-flagged vessels sailed to the Yucatán coast to execute maneuvers that successfully refloated the merchant ship “Grande Senegal,” which had been grounded on the Bajo de Madagascar reef since Saturday, July 22nd.
At least three tugboats of varying sizes arrived at the grounding site, approximately 40 kilometers off the coast of Sisal, to dislodge the 210-meter-long and 33-meter-wide vessel. The ship, operated by the Italian company Grimaldi Lines, had damaged over 80 meters of reef structures.
The presence of these vessels raised concerns among local Sisal fishermen, who engaged in discussions with the crew and captains out of fear that the salvage operation might cause further damage to the ecosystem.
Given the escalating tension, the Mexican Navy and the National Commission of Natural Protected Areas (Conanp) were called in. Their personnel oversaw the efforts to free the “Grande Senegal,” ensuring that they didn’t exacerbate the negligence displayed by the ship’s captain, who had disregarded the coral colony with a maximum depth of seven meters.
Cristóbal Cáceres G. Cantón, director of the Arrecife Alacranes National Park, another protected area located in Yucatán, mentioned that they had been informed of the grounding last week and had conducted an initial damage assessment.
Now that the ship is freed, Mexican authorities will conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the incurred damage.
Cáceres G. Cantón pointed out that, based on preliminary inspections by the Federal Attorney for Environmental Protection (Profepa), the damages did not affect species protected by NOM-059-Semarnat-2010. However, both the ship and its owners have been fully identified, subjecting them to an administrative process with the Port Captaincy of Progreso and the Attorney General’s Office (FGR).
Regarding environmental, civil, and social complaints lodged by the fishermen, the Sisal police station, and the Hunucmá municipality, Cáceres G. Cantón assured that all concerns would be addressed, gradually resolved as reparations progress favorably.
Furthermore, he expressed that they will collaborate with the local fishing community to assess the damage caused by the Italian vessel’s grounding, aiming to impose a penalty commensurate with the harm inflicted.
It’s noteworthy that according to the maritime traffic monitoring website Vesselfinder, the “Grande Senegal” is currently navigating through the channel off the Yucatán coast. It is estimated to dock at the Progreso High Port at 13:00 hours on Thursday.