GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/12 May) — Around 800 square meters of coral reefs had been destroyed as a result of the grounding last week of a Panamanian-registered reefer vessel off a coastal village here.
Valiente Lastimoso, City Environment and Natural Resources Office head, said Tuesday a portion of the Taku Tago Reef in Barangay Bawing here sustained some major damages after M/V Tiara 108 went off course and eventually ran aground in the area last Wednesday.
Aside from the coral reefs, the grounded vessel also destroyed a number of artificial reef installed in the area.
Latimoso said these findings were based on an assessment conducted by divers commissioned by the local government.
“The affected area is around 800 square meters so it’s quite extensive,” Lastimoso told reporters.
He said the damage, which was documented by the divers, was initially estimated at around P100,000.
Lastimoso said they have endorsed the damage assessment of the office of City Mayor Ronnel Rivera and the Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) for appropriate action.
He said the owners and crew members of MV Tiara 108 could be charged for violation of Republic Act 7586 or the National Integrated Protected Areas System Act of 1992.
The damaged area is part of the Sarangani Bay Protected Seascape, which covers a total of 211,913 hectares.
M/V Tiara 108, which came from Papua New Guinea, was on its way to the city fishport complex when it drifted and got stuck at around 0.3 nautical mile from the coastline of Bawing Beach here.
Crew members of the vessel, which was carrying some 3,933 metric tons of frozen tuna, reportedly miscalculated its course after evading some small fishing vessels.
The vessel, which is currently docked at the city fish port complex, was removed through the help of salvor ships a day after it was stranded.
Lt. Rolando Lorenzana, commander of the Philippine Coast Guard station here, said there were no signs of an oil spill in the area based on the surface inspection that they conducted.
He said that except for minor paint scratches, the vessel did not incur cracks or dents on its hull, rudder and propeller.
The PCG station initially cleared the vessel after “concluding that the integrity of its hull is intact and is, therefore, safe to navigate.” (MindaNews)