Guam – Vice Speaker B.J. Cruz has introduced a measure to protect coral reefs from grounded vessels.
A release from Cruz’s office states that it is part of his ongoing efforts to protect Guam’s environment and Apra Harbor.
Bill 120-31 (LS) is entitled the “Coral Reef Protection Act.” If enacted, it would allow for recovery of damages and the assessment of civil penalties for “reckless and wanton behavior associated the operation of a marine vessel” that damages a coral reef.
The release quotes Senator Cruz as saying: “With the recent signing of the Programmatic Agreement, shipping associated with the impending military buildup is also certain to increase the potential for damage to Guam’s reefs.”
The Senator also states the measure “seeks to allow for immediate assessment and response to damaged coral reefs to prevent further damage, to restore coral reef function, and recover monetary damages resulting from vessel groundings, anchor-related injuries for vessels larger than 30 feet, spills, smothering from dredge, and unpermitted release of pollutants.”
The Speaker cites research from the University of Guam Marine Lab which estimates that coral reefs on Guam are worth $127 million a year in economic revenues and their ecological and cultural value is priceless.