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Vietnamese cargo ship damages 200 artificial reefs off Sarangani Bay

Vietnamese cargo ship damages 200 artificial reefs off Sarangani Bay
Jeoffrey Maitem - June 20, 2018

GENERAL SANTOS CITY — More than 200 artificial reef domes were damaged when a Vietnamese cargo ship ran aground off Sarangani Bay on its way to the Makar port here, authorities said Wednesday.

Omar Saikol, assistant superintendent of the Sarangani Bay Protected Seascape, said based on the report they got from the Philippine Coast Guard, the ship, HTK Energy, hit the artificial reefs on June 18.

He said the damaged artificial reefs served as habitat for various fish species and that they have already commissioned divers to check on the extent of the destruction.

“There is an ongoing investigation. We’re getting video footage of the damage to facilitate the proper assessment and imposition of possible penalties or fines,” he told reporters.

Authorities and environmentalists had been putting up artificial reefs in portions of the Sarangani Bay and the one damaged by the ship was located off Barangay Dadiangas South here.

Saikol said the Sarangani Bay’s Protected Area Management Board would continue to assess the situation.

Katherine Lopez Bitco, an environment management specialist at the city environment office, said the artificial reefs, located 20 meters from the shore, were constructed more than 10 years ago by environmentalists.

“The damage is quite extensive and the area could reach 100 to 200 square meters,” Bitco said.

It was the second of such incident in Sarangani Bay.

In 2011, the Panama-registered MV Double Propensity, which was transporting 66,000 tons of coal to India from Australia, also ran aground at the Bakud Reef.

About four hectares of corals were damaged in the incident, which the ship’s owners were made to pay for.