MANILA, Philippines - The damage done by the grounding of a US minesweeper in Tubbataha Reef has reached 4,000 square meters, up four times from initial baseline assessments.
Angelique Songco, Tubbataha marine park manager, said the USS Guardian flattened an estimated 4,000 square meters of the World Heritage site – almost three times the size of the arena at the Big Dome in Cubao.
She said this is just an initial assessment, with the damaged portion expected to get bigger once the USS Guardian is extricated from the area.
Republic Act 10067 or the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park Act of 2009 dictates a fine of about $300 or P12,000 per square meter of damaged area, plus another $300 per square meter for rehabilitation efforts.
The US Navy earlier promised it will make good its promise to pay the fine.
The United States government also assured a long-term commitment to the Philippine government. A US interdisciplinary scientific team is now being formed to initiate discussions with the government to review coral reef rehabilitation options in Tubbataha. – from a report by Dennis Datu, dzMM