“Vessel groundings are becoming more common in the British Virgin Islands (BVI) territory. However, many vessel groundings go unreported or Government officials are not notified until a damaged vessel has been hauled for repairs. The damages to the vessel also signify substantial damage to the reef.”
The following are the measures suggested by a group of environmental researchers:
- A huge increase in the maximum damages to be paid under law by persons in breach to prevent vessel groundings.
- The Island Resources Foundation in a report based on its researchers’ findings, proposed that the maximum damages be increased under the territory’s Merchant Shipping Act (2004) from $250,000 to $1.5 million for damages caused by vessels in the BVI waters.
- The researchers proposed the introduction of unlimited liability in a number of circumstances including those in which operators of vessels are negligent, toxic substance spillages, impacting species identified as threatened under International Union for the Conservation of Nature criteria, or damages within an area legally defined as protected.
- The environmental researchers, in the meantime, stated that the legal fraternity in the BVI needs training in maritime law as it relates to vessel groundings.
- The number of maritime law expertise within Government should be increased and proper communication between the maritime industry (vessel operators, charter companies, salvage companies, etcetera) and the applicable agencies of Government be established.
- “The yacht charter sector of the BVI’s tourism product was last assessed in 1981. An accurate or contemporary data had to be gathered as it relates to the maintenance of a healthy maritime environment,” added the environmental research group including Dr Shannon Gore and Clive Petrovic.
Source: BVI News