Vessel pays USD 10 mln as compensation for reef damage

The owners of MV Navios Amaryllis have paid USD 10 million to the Maldives as compensation for the damage caused when the vessel ran aground Rasfari Reef.

The Panama-flagged bunker ran aground west of Rasfari reef on August 19. The vessel's crew cited engine failure as the cause of the incident. However, several questions have been raised regarding the course of events that led to the incident. The vessel was successfully refloated on August 22. The vessel remains detained in the Maldives since then.

The Environment Protection Agency (EPA) assessed the damage to the reef and asked the vessel owners to pay the USD 10 million to the Maldives government. However, the vessel's owners appealed the decision to the Minister of Environment, Climate Change and Technology Aminath Shauna. The minister reviewed the matter and concluded that there were no grounds to change the EPA's decision.

The Environment Ministry confirmed that USD 10 million, which includes a heavy fine and funds needed to restore the reef to its pre-accident condition, was paid to a public bank account at the Maldives Inland Revenue Authority on Sunday. The amount was paid following extensive discussion between the vessel's owners and the Environment Ministry, Finance Ministry, and the Transport Authority, the ministry said.

This is the highest amount paid to the Maldives government as a fine incurred under the Environment Protection Act. This is also the first time where compensation was collected with restoration work attached as a condition. The vessel's owners also agreed to provide technical assistance to expand EPA's capacity to assess similar cases.

As the due amount has been paid to the Maldives government, the vessel will now be released from detention.

Rasfari was declared a protected area in 1995 under the Environment Protection and Preservation Act of the Maldives. The area is a famous dive point and has coral gardens with manta cleaning stations. The plateau walls present many corals and algae, which host many species such as protected species napoleon wrasse, stingrays, sharks, and turtles.