Dredging in Honolulu Harbor damages 15,000 corals; barge company to pay $1.1 million settlement
The anchors and cables of a barge operated by Healy Tibbitts Builders broke or damaged more than 15,000 corals and 140 square yards of live rock while dredging Honolulu Harbor in May 2021, according to a survey conducted by the Hawaiʻi State Department of Land and Natural Resources and the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
Today, the Board of Land and Natural Resources approved a settlement payment of $1,119,265 by the company, which will be held in trust for the purpose of coral reef management and restoration on O‘ahu.
Board Chair Suzanne Case said: “This contribution is significant, as are the actions Healy Tibbitts Builders took immediately after causing the damage. The firm has been cooperative and admitted that its dredging and anchoring operation was in error. It took immediate, emergency steps to restore portions of the damaged area and to mitigate further damage to state resources caused by the primary damage.”
On two separate days, following the initial damage report, divers from the state Division of Aquatic Resources and the US Fish and Wildlife Service conducted surveys to determine the extent of the coral and live rock injuries that occurred.
Division of Aquatic Resources Administrator Brian Neilson told the board: “We were able to create a detailed map of the impact area that allowed for more thorough biological assessments of the damage, which followed, to document the coral and live rock damage.”
Neilson expressed gratitude to the contractor for taking full responsibility for its actions and ensuring that its emergency restoration work was of the highest quality.