• Owners of a $41 million superyacht will pay a $100,000 fine after damaging hundreds of coral colonies in Hawaii.
  • The yacht, the Formosa, dropped anchor onto coral, breaking 431 coral colonies across more than 11,000 square feet, Hawaii’s Department of Land and Natural Resources said.
  • The yacht’s chain inflicted much of the damage by swinging through the coral bed, according to the state.
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Owners of a 197-foot superyacht will pay a hefty fine after damaging coral colonies in Hawaii’s Kailua Bay in 2018, the state’s Department of Land and Natural Resources announced this week.

The owners — Formosa Wealth Management Group, whose yacht also bears the Formosa name — settled with the state to the tune of $100,000, which will fund the restoration and management of coral reefs in West Hawaii, the department said in a statement. The Formosa appears to be up for sale with an asking price north of $41 million.

Formosa yacht

Foto: The Formosa. Source: Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources

The damage occurred in October 2018, the announcement said, when the yacht dropped anchor onto coral, breaking and damaging about 431 coral colonies and approximately 150 square feet of live rock. That constituted a violation of Hawaii Administrative Rules, but the state determined it would be difficult to prosecute the Formosa’s owners because the vessel operates under a foreign flag, which many yacht owners do for tax purposes.

All told, biologists estimate that the Formosa’s anchor impacted coral across an area of more than 11,000 square feet, the department said.

Nikki Smith, an aquatic biologist with the department's Division of Aquatic Resources, said in the announcement that much of the damage came from the anchor's chain "swinging through the bed," adding that the impact was "quite extensive."

After surveying the damage, biologists from the division took to repairing the affected coral. They went on three dives to reposition more than 50 large colonies and stabilize more than 250 coral fragments.