Vessel owner needs to pay for damaged corals: PCG

THE Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) will not give mv Belle Rose the clearance to sail unless management settles the damage it caused to the environment when the vessel ran aground off Malapascua Island in Daanbantayan, Cebu last Monday.

Commander Agapito Bibat, chief of the CG Station-Cebu, said the PCG Auxiliary conducted an underwater inspection of Mv Belle to determine if its hull was damaged, which may have resulted to an oil spill.

“There was no oil spill, so far,” Bibat said.

However, the incident damaged more than 400 meters of corals.

He said they will refer the matter to the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources so these can come up with a figure.

Assessment

Bibat said Baltazar Tribunalo, head of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office PDRRMO), is coordinating with his office.

The PCG, through its Maritime Safety Investigation Team, will look into the seaworthiness of the vessel, while he PDRRMO will investigate the damage to the environment.

Bibat said a survey vessel from Malayan Towage, a salvage company, will arrive today to conduct a survey and a salvage operation. It will also assess how to float the vessel without transferring its cargo of cement powder.

He said the vessel’s owner initially wanted to transfer the cargo to a sister vessel, but it found the operation to be too costly.

Bibat said the PCG will also investigate why mv Belle Rose, with carries eight officers and a crew of 12, who are all Filipinos, passed by Monad Shoal, which is five miles from Malapascua Island, when the area is known to be shallow.

“It is like Panatag Shoal, which is visible during low tide and cannot be seen during high tide. So, navigators who are familiar with the chart will not pass by the area,” Bibat said.
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