04 November 2005

Greenpeace faces fine for reef damage

Marine park rangers in the Philippines say Greenpeace is to be fined after its flagship Rainbow Warrior II damaged a coral reef during a climate change awareness campaign.

The ship and its crew were handed a $A15,543 fine after the 55-metre motor-assisted schooner ran aground at the Tubbataha Reef Marine in the central Philippines.

Park manager Angelique Songco says the ship's bow sliced through a reef formation measuring 160 square metres.

A Greenpeace official in the Philippines describes the incident as accidental, and says it will comply with the marine park authorities' ruling.

The Rainbow Warrior II arrived in the reservation in the middle of the Sulu Sea, about 600 kilometres south of Manila, last weekend as part of a four-month Asia-Pacific campaign to promote earth-friendly energy sources.

Greenpeace campaign manager Red Constantino says the crew made dive sorties to inspect the effect of global warming on the coral formation, which is listed among the World Heritage sites of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation.

"The chart indicated we were a mile and a half from the coral reef when the ship ran aground," Mr Constantino said.

He says the August 2005 navigational map was provided by the mapping office of the Philippine Government.

The ship's own rubber boats safely towed the Rainbow Warrior II into deeper water, and it escaped serious damage.

Source: www.abc.net.au


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