Coast Guard Plans to Save Ft. Laud. Reefs

Tuesday, October 10, 2006
CBS reported that the Coast Guard has been working on a plan to protect Fort Lauderdale reefs from potentially damaging freighters that lose their way and get stuck on those sensitive reefs. In the wake of the latest freighter grounding off the coast of Fort Lauderdale last month, the Coast Guard wants to change the anchorage rules to protect the reefs. Right now, the rules state vessels waiting to enter Port Everglades can drop anchor in two off-shore areas where three delicate reefs run parallel to the coastline. Two ships have run aground on the reefs this year alone, destroying the delicate coral and sea fans. Since 1994, a total of eleven ships have grounded themselves, and damaged more than three acres of sensitive reef and cost ship owners millions to repair.

The Coast Guard wants to limit the size of the vessels allowed among the reefs and restrict them to certain areas. Vessels that are under 575 ft. in length would be permitted to anchor between the second and third offshore reefs. That area, called Anchorage A, is a 1,000 ft. wide, mile and a half long rectangle that runs north and south between the reefs. Only four ships would be allowed to anchor there at one time in specific locations.

The second area, Anchorage B, would have three specific anchor points, for a total of seven anchored vessels at a time. Others could drop hooks in deep water to the east. Officials from Port Everglades, and environment experts on county, state and federal levels plan to meet next week to review the Coast Guard’s reef saving proposal. source: CBS4

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