Chinese boat grounded at Tubbataha

A Chinese fishing boat ran aground at a Philippine marine sanctuary where a United States Navy ship damaged more than 2,000 square metres of coral reef in a similar accident two months ago, officials said Tuesday.

  • Published: 9/04/2013 at 01:04 PM
  • Newspaper section: breakingnews

The Chinese boat, with 12 crew members, got stuck late Monday at a northern islet of the Tubbataha Marine National Park off Palawan province, 600 kilometres west of Manila, navy spokesman Colonel Edgard Arevalo said.

Rangers from the Tubbataha Management Office have been dispatched to investigate the accident and conduct an assessment, Arevalo said.

"The Chinese fishermen are not supposed to be there," he said.

A coast guard ship would escort the Chinese boat to nearby Puerto Princesa City for investigation for alleged poaching and illegal entry, coast guard spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Armand Balilo said.

On Jan 17, a US Navy minesweeper ran aground at Tubbataha, a UNESCO World Heritage site, damaging 2,345 square metres of the reef.

Monday's accident happened just one week after the US Navy completed the removal of the nearly 70-metre-long USS Guardian from the reef.

The Philippines is to fine the US Navy 1.4 million US dollars, in line with the 600 dollars imposed by law per square metre of damage to cover penalties and rehabilitation.

In 2005, environmental activist group Greenpeace was fined almost 7,000 dollars when its ship ran aground in the same area. The group blamed an inaccurate chart.

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