Owners of Luxury Yacht Fined After Dropped Anchor Damages Coral in Kailua Bay

September 1, 2020, 11:51 AM HST (Updated September 1, 2020, 11:51 AM)
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Courtesy of DLNR

The owners of a luxury yacht that damaged coral when it dropped anchor in Kailua Bay two years ago was ordered to pay $100,000.

The State Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR) voted Aug. 28 to approve the settlement agreement with the Formosa Wealth Management Group (FWM), owners of the 197-foot luxury yacht to the DLNR Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR). The fine will go toward supporting coral reef management and restoration in West Hawai‘i.

The Formosa dropped anchor in Kailua Bay in October of 2018. DAR’s submittal to the BLNR showed the vessel violated Hawaiʻi Administrative Rules by breaking and damaging approximately 431 coral colonies of stony coral and approximately 150-square feet of live rock, when the Formosa dropped anchor in the Kailua Bay Zone of the Kona Coast Fishery Management Area.

Employees of Big Island Watersports observed the Formosa’s anchor was not properly set and documented the presence of recently broken coral in the immediate area. DAR aquatic biologists were made aware of the incident by employees of the Atlantis Submarine who also witnessed and documented damage. After anchoring on the reef, the boat later moved into deeper water and anchored in sand.

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Nikki Smith, a DAR aquatic biologist in Kona, said that damage to the Porites compressa coral bed was “quite extensive”, noting that a lot of the damage occurred from the anchor’s chain “swinging through the bed.”

Biologists estimated that total damages to all stony coral species covered an area of 11,294 square feet. The affected area had an estimated live coral cover of 50-70%, which is unfortunately unusually high for West Hawaiʻi, following the 2015 coral bleaching event.

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