Dredging operations at Mahogany Bay took place in the first part of March. Mahogany Bay has been executing a permit to move coral and dredge a 50,000-square meter triangular area of coral at the southeastern portion of the channel.
Karl Stanly and his deepwater submarine were contracted to locate a suitable place for dumping the dredged debris.
According to Jennifer De La Cruz, Director of Carnival’s Public Relations, the dredging was conducted by Belgium-based dredging contractor Jan De Nul. “All necessary permits from SERNA were obtained and all work was carried out in accordance with all conditions set forth by the Honduran government,” wrote De La Cruz.
Carnival expects that “widening of the channel should greatly reduce the possibility of cruise ships having to bypass scheduled calls to the Mahogany Bay Cruise Center … [and] enhance channel navigation to both cruise ships and ferries and attract additional calls to Mahogany Bay.”
Some questions as to the marine ecosystem being affected by the dredging have been raised by local businesses. According to Roatan Marine Park’s Nick Bach, one of the West End dive shops has alerted the Marine Park about a vessel that had anchored on the reef outside Dixon Cove at the time of dredging.
Within a couple of days, Roatan Marine Park staff conducted an on-site inspection of the reef damage assumed to be done by the dredger, or one of accompanying ships dropping anchor on top of the reef. “About one acre was damaged. It’s pretty bad,” said Giacomo Palavicini, director of Field Operations for Roatan-based Shark Legacy Project, who participated in the inspection. [/private]