US to give P4.1 million to restore damaged reef-A A +A
Sunday, February 3, 2013
MANILA -- The United States committed Sunday to give P4.1 million to support coral restoration efforts of the Philippine Government following the January 17 grounding of the USS Guardian minesweeper at the Tubbataha Reef off Palawan.
The amount is on top of the fine it will have to pay the government for damages, which already reached over 4,000 square meters, based on an assessment made by the Tubbataha Reef National Marine Park.
“In view of damage caused by the USS Guardian accident at Tubbataha Reef, the United States has expressed its regrets and is prepared to provide appropriate compensation to the Republic of the Philippines. In addition to compensation, the US government is planning a number of other activities which will underscore its commitment to Tubbataha’s recovery and the protection of the marine resources of the Philippines,” a statement released by the US embassy in Manila read.
The US said that in the next two weeks, it will organize a roundtable with local coral reef conservation experts to listen to concerns and discuss options for conservation and restoration of the damaged reef.
Among those invited to the discussion will be entities such as the US Agency for International Development (USAid), the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA), relevant Philippines agencies, and the Tubbataha Management Office (TMO).
“Through USAid’s Coral Triangle Support Partnership (CTSP), P4.1 million (US$100,000) will be granted to a Philippine university to support coral restoration research at Tubbataha Reef,” the embassy added.
The amount will cover a study to develop a technical plan for coral reef rehabilitation.
At the same time, the US government planned to offer to fund a site survey for proposed improvements to the existing ranger station on Tubbataha Reef.
Proposals could include the installation of radar and communications equipment that can assist Park Rangers and the Philippine Coast Guard in avoiding collisions and being alert on marine poachers.
In an effort to improve cartographic information available on Tubbataha protected area and environs, the US Government will share hydrographic survey data with the Philippines' National Mapping and Resource Information Authority (NAMRIA).
A US interdisciplinary scientific team will also initiate discussions with the Philippine government to review coral reef rehabilitation options in Tubbataha, based on assessments by Philippine-based marine scientists, “as soon as practicable.”
“This US team is being formed now. They will help assess damage and remediation options, in coordination with the TMO, appropriate Philippine government entities, non-governmental organizations, and scientific experts from Philippine universities,” the embassy said.
The US added that biodiversity conservation should be a priority under the US-Philippines Bilateral Science and Technology Agreement that took effect in October 2012. (JCV/Sunnex)