MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The Tubbataha Management Office disclosed on Friday, May 3, that the F/V Min Long Yu, the Chinese vessel that ran aground in Tubbataha Reefs on April 8, destroyed 3,902 square meters of corals, 66% larger than the final damage measurement caused by the USS Guardian.
In a statement, Angelique Songco, Tubbataha park superintendent, said that some of the massive corals pulverized were estimated to be about 500 years old.
“The damage the Chinese vessel caused to the reef is heartbreaking,” Songco said.
The 48-meter (157-foot) Chinese fishing vessel ran aground the North Atoll of the Tubbataha reef more than a week after salvage teams removed the USS Guardian.
The ex-US warship damaged about 2,345.67 square meters of the reef when it slammed into a portion of the UNESCO World Heritage site on January 17. (Read: US navy faces P58-M fine over Tubbataha)
Republic Act 10067, or the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park Act of 2009, specifies a fine of about US$300 or at least P12,000 per square meter of damaged reef, plus another $300 or so per square meter for rehabilitation efforts.
This would mean that a fine of approximately P95 million will be charged against the Chinese vessel after an administrative fine of P1.4 million imposed by the Executive Committee of the The Tubbataha Protected Area Management Board (TPAMB) on April 19. The P1.4 million added fine was due to violating Section 19 (Unauthorized Entry), Section 21 (Non Payment of Conservation Fees), Section 26g (Destroying, Disturbing Resources) of Republic Act 10067, the Tubbataha Management Office said.
The Tubbataha Management Office said that they already sent an official communication to the Chinese Embassy and the Department of Foreign Affairs seeking assistance in identifying the person or company liable for the crimes committed.
Hundreds of dead pangolins or scaly anteaters – a protected species – were also later discovered in the ship.
A total of 12 Chinese men were caught in the vessel and are now facing criminal charges for violating Section 27 (Poaching) and Section 26 (Possession of Protected Species) of the Republic Act 10067 or the Tubbataha Act of 2009 and Article 212 (Corruption of Public Officials) of the Revised Penal Code of the Philippines.
The fishermen attempted to bribe park rangers after their arrest, according to the charges.
They will also face administrative cases before the Tubbataha Protected Area Management Board (TPAMB). – Rappler.com
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