No final compensation amount yet for damaged Monad Shoal

By: Jose Santino S. Bunachita July 11,2016 - 10:50 PM

DAMAGED CORALS: Divers inspect the area in Monad Shoal where international bulk carrier  "MV Belle Rose"  had  ran aground.

DAMAGED CORALS: Divers inspect the area in Monad Shoal where international bulk carrier “MV Belle Rose” had ran aground.

Although the owner of MV Belle Rose has guaranteed a maximum payment of US$ 1.5 million to pay for damages caused when the vessel ran aground in Monad Shoal off Malapascua Island, it is still not the final amount.

Cebu Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (Penro) legal officer Ahmad Clay Escolar said the final amount to be paid by the ship owner for the damage and rehabilitation of the affected area in Monad Shoal was still being assessed by different stakeholders.

Escolar said they hoped to finalize soon the amount as well as the comprehensive rehabilitation plan of the damaged shoal and the signing of the compromise agreement between the ship’s owner, Crest Ocean Traders SA, and the provincial government.

“After all the data are collated, we will consolidate it and we will come up with a figure. If the ship owner will agree that the amount is reasonable for the needs for the rehabilitation of Monad Shoal, then we will enter into a compromise agreement. After signing, they have 21 days to give us the money,” Escolar told reporters yesterday.

The offer of US$1.5 million was stated in the letter of guarantee that the shipping company submitted to the provincial government. The compensation would be paid by Crest Ocean’s insurance provider.

At least a hectare of coral reefs was affected when the Panamanian-registered bulk carrier ran aground in the waters off Monad Shoal, an underwater island that serves as cleaning stations of thresher sharks, at dawn of June 12 while reportedly trying to avoid hitting fishermen on board a small boat. Escolar said that once payment has been made, they planned to put up fish habitat enhancement devices in different areas within and outside of Monad Shoal to ensure that fishes and other marine animals, especially those that clean thresher sharks, would continue to thrive in the area.

Thresher sharks are the main attraction for divers who frequent the dive spots of Malapascua Island, including that in Monad Shoal and around the coastal town of Daanbantayan that has jurisdiction over Malapascua.

Escolar said the devices would be set up outside of Monad Shoal’s protected area to ensure that small-scale fishers, who have also been affected by the incident, could still continue to fish.

“There’s also a suggestion for coral reattachment where the damaged corals will be salvaged and replanted in the same area. It was found out that it’s not good to bring in different corals from other areas. It has to be the local corals,” Escolar said.

Once a comprehensive rehabilitation program is completed, it will have to be approved by the Cebu Provincial Board, which will also need to authorize Gov. Hilario Davide III to sign the compromise agreement with the ship owner on behalf of the provincial government, added Escolar.

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TAGS: Malapascua, Malapascua Island, Monad shoal, MV Belle Rose, PENRO

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