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Boat owner who possibly damaged reef faces 10m peso fine

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Arrecife Alacranes. Photo: Discover

Mérida, Yucatán — A “zero tolerance” approach to protecting Scorpion Reef is reflected in a 10-million-peso fine levied against the owner of a boat that ran aground there last month.

José Lafontaine Hamui, local delegate of the federal environmental protection agency Profepa, said that authorities are still investigating what, if any, damage the boat caused at the protected site 65 miles off Progreso.

Navy officers there have denied any stranding occurred. But Profepa has documented damage on the Kay Kay’s engine and propellor that is consistent with their report.

Arrecife Alacranes, as the area is called in Spanish, is highly protected from visitors.

“We have information that confirms that it has been registered, we have already inspected the marina Silcert where the ‘Kay Kay’ boat was found and presents damage to the engines and propellers,” Lafontaine added.

Profepa has not found the owner of the Kay Kay, but with the help of witnesses they are making progress in reaching him.

A boat’s navigator cannot be reckless in a national park and its fragile ecosystem, Lafontaine said.

“Captains and sailors must have a thorough knowledge of the waters they are going to sail through. It takes a lot of awareness about their national park and natural resources, and that protection starts with each family and does not need Profepa to find out how a boat hit it,” he added.

Scorpion Reef is the largest reef in the southern Gulf of Mexico, about 17 miles long and about 13 miles wide. Only one of its five islands is inhabited.

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