Cebu News

Damaged Monad shoal: Rehab may cost $2M, take 10 years

Michael Vencynth H. Braga - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines - The rehabilitation of the coral reefs in Monad Shoal, a marine protected area near Malapascua Island, may cost around $2 million, or almost a billion pesos, and take up to 10 years.

Environmental lawyer Benjamin Cabredo, co-founder of the Philippine Earth Justice, said if simple restoration methods such as transplantation of coral colonies is used, it would cost $10,000 (P463,000) per hectare of the damaged coral reefs.

The grounding of M/V Belle Rose, a Panama-registered cargo ship, in Monad Shoal on Monday dawn damaged 2.39 hectares of coral reef, based on the initial assessment report.

Cabredo said the damage may double after the salvage operations of the bulk carrier are complete.

A team composed of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, Environmental Management Bureau, Department of Tourism, Marine Biology students from University of San Carlos, and local Bantay Dagat groups Shark Link, and Migo sa Iho conducted an assessment on the site.

The vessel is still currently stuck among the corals since the salvage operations have yet to begin.

The salvage permit has yet to be issued by Philippine Coast Guard to the company hired by the owner of bulk carrier.

Marine biologist Gary Cases reported during an emergency meeting of concerned government agencies yesterday that most corals were already pulverized. He then showed photos of dead marine creatures on the sea bed.

Cabredo said failure to immediately restore the damaged coral colonies will expose to danger marine species in Monad Shoal, which is frequented by thresher sharks for grooming sessions.

The shoal is 7.8 kilometers from Malapascua Island, a sought-after dive spot in northern Cebu.

Cabredo added that it should be the shipping firm that will shoulder the rehabilitation expenses through its protection and indemnity insurance which covers shipowners and operators for indeterminate risks and third-party liabilities encountered in their commercial operation. It also covers environmental damage.

During the meeting, lawyer Pedrito Fantaren Jr., who represented the shipping firm, said the company is currently investigating the incident.

He said surveyors were also hired to join the assessment team in finding out the extent of the damage caused by the grounded vessel.

A salvage plan is currently being crafted.

Fantaren assured that the vessel will be removed as soon as possible without causing further damage to the coral colonies.  (FREEMAN)


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