Talisay to sue ship firm for 2009 reef damage
The Talisay city government is suing a shipping company two years after its ship ran aground in Lagundi Reef off the city.
The Talisay City Council passed last week a resolution authorizing Mayor Socrates Fernandez and the City Legal Office to sue MV United Majuro.
The suit aims to “compel the owner, the captain and the local agent of ‘MV United’ to compensate the city for the damages to the corals and other marine life at the Lagundi Reef as a result of the grounding of the vessel ‘MV United,’” the resolution read.
The city government’s earlier demands for compensation went unheeded, said the resolution authored by Councilor Bernard Odilao, chair of the City Council’s environment committee.
Much of the Lagundi Reef, a protected area in Talisay City, was destroyed when the Chinese cargo vessel bound for Thailand ran aground in the area on March 5, 2009.
The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources estimated the damage to the reef at P861,680, excluding heritage value, cost of rehabilitation and eco-tourism income generation per annum for 25 years.
Live coral cover damage was estimated at 0.38 hectares or 84.02 percent of the reef. Recovery time was estimated at 25 years.
Two adult giant clams (scientific name Tridacna squamosa) were killed by the impact of the ship.
The government allocated P1.3 million pesos for the filing and litigation of the case against MV United Majuro.
The vessel, a bulk carrier from Majuro on Marshall Island, has 24 crew members, all Chinese.
Talisay City officials ordered the arrest of Cheng Guang Ming, captain of the MV United Majuro, for violating Talisay City ordinance that regulates activities within the reef.
Ming said he and his crew did not realize that they were in a protected coastal area.
MV United Majuro captain Cheng Cuang Ming was fined P5,000, the maximum penalty for violating the ordinance and was ordered released by the city prosecutor.
The captain then donated US$10,000 to Talisay City. /Correspondent Carmel Loise Matus
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