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Capitol advised to file marine protest vs. ship owner

| by: Xerxes Alkuino

The Cebu Provincial Government was advised to file a marine protest with the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) against cargo ship M/V Belle Rose.

The ship ran aground on the Monad Shoal, Malapascua Island last June 13. Initial survey conducted by the first responder estimated the affected marine habitat to have reached 2,400 hectares.

One of the seven divers requested by the Capitol to survey damaged area noticed that the ship moved ahead by approximately 10 meters from its previous location.

Marine Biologist Mario Maribabol, Tourism Operations Officer II of Department of Tourism (DOT), said the best option is to file a marine protest while damage assessment activities continue.

He said the protest could compel the concerned agencies to act. Maribabol added they needed another day to finish the mapping.

Maribabol further stated that the vessel bulldozed and killed fish corrals and marine life in the shoal.

He said the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources should also do its valuation and assessment.

“For DOT, we are not only concerned of value of the damage marine life but its effect on the tourism industry as well,” he said.

Dennis Cortes, operations chief of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office, said they are still 40 to 50 percent complete.

M/V Belle Rose, a Panamian registered vessel, is owned by a Japanese resident. According to PCG, the vessel carried clinkers to its port of destination in Fernando town. Its total weight is 48,000 metric ton including the weight of the ship.

Marine biologist Gary Cases, who spearheaded the first group of responders, also helped the Capitol in the mapping.

Joa Lofstrom, manager of Exotic Island Dive Resort, also volunteered to join the underwater survey.

The vessel was manned by 20 Filipino seamen including ship Captain Vicar Niel De Los Reyes.