Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen could have his 92m (300ft) superyacht Tatoosh seized by the Cayman Islands government for destruction to local coral reefs. CNN reported that the yacht’s anchor dragged through a coral reef in the Cayman Islands some two weeks ago.
Other media sources say that Allen and his crew could be fined up to US$600,000 and face four years of jail time for the incident.
Tim Austin, deputy director of research in the Caymans’ Department of the Environment, said that under the Cayman Islands national conservation law, damaging coral could be prosecuted as a criminal offence. Beyond jail time and fines, he added that Tatoosh could be seized during a prosecution.
CNN reported that an investigation is ongoing, and from the initial estimate it looks as though 11,000 square feet (a quarter of an acre) of underwater terrain was destroyed.
A spokesperson for Allen said the incident had been “greatly exaggerated”. The spokesman said: “On January 14, 2016, MV Tatoosh was moored in a position explicitly directed by the local Port Authority,” said the statement. “When its crew was alerted by a diver that her anchor chain may have impacted coral in the area, the crew promptly, and on their own accord, relocated their position to ensure the reef was protected.”