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article imagePhilippines mulls $1 million penalty for coral reef destruction

By Leo Reyes     May 17, 2011 in Environment
The owners of a Panamanian-registered cargo ship that ran aground off the coast of Sarangani province in the Philippines may be asked to pay at least $1 million for damaging the reef in a protected area of the country.
The cargo ship ran aground while navigating the coast of Sarangani Bay on her way to India to deliver coal from its origin in Australia over a week ago.
It was widely speculated the ship tried to go near the bay area to get broadcast signal when she hit the shallow reef while Philippine boxing superstar Manny Pacquiao was engaging American boxer Shane Mosley in a highly-hyped boxing fight last May 7 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The fight was televised worldwide and was viewed free of charge on a slightly delayed broadcast for millions of Pacquiao fans to see.
Philstar.com reports, "DENR Secretary Ramon Paje said the penalty should include not only the damage in the coral area but the total worth of marine services lost.
"The reef, which is within the 215,950-hectare Sarangani Bay Protected Seascape (SBPS), is a declared protected area by virtue of Presidential Proclamation No. 756," the report added.
“We estimate that the damage cost in Bakud Reef could run up to P42 million. But this amount is like giving a slap on the wrist on the ship’s owners as the value of marine services lost as a consequence of the accident is invaluable,” Paje said.
"Paje said that the SBPS’s Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) is yet to give an official damage cost and hopes that the figure it will come up with would be reflective of the points raised." the Official Gazette reports.
“We must make sure that the operators of MV Double Prosperity pay the full amount of fines due for the reef damage their ship caused. To do any less would make a mockery of the Philippine legal system, particularly our National Integrated Protected Areas Systems Law and the Bakud Reef as a protected area,” Paje said.
The MV Double Prosperity crew members were reported to have encountered difficulty in moving the cargo ship from the shallow water even at high tide.
More about Coral reef, Cargo ship, Oil spill, Philippines, Marine life
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