Damage assessment of the reef will be conducted by scientists with the University of the Philippines-Marine Science Institute and representatives of the U.S Navy. Scientists will conduct a second assessment April 8 to determine how best to restore the reef, which has incurred an estimated 4,000 square meters (43,000 square feet) of damage, as well as develop a monitoring plant to assure that the reef is restored. Included in the second assessment will be representatives with the Philippine Bureau of Aquatic Resources, Department of Science and Technology, and the World Wide Fund for Nature.
“With the first step accomplished, we now move on to assessment,” WWF-Philippines vice chairman and CEO Jose Ma. Lorenzo Tan told the Philippine Star. “The results will give us an objective basis for the fines that must be collected not just to expedite reef recovery but to upgrade our capacity to conserve our country’s most productive reef system.”
The reef was last damaged by a Greenpeace ship that ran aground in 2005. The activist organization was fined nearly 400,000 pesos ($10,000 at January 2013 exchange rates) by the park’s management. In addition to providing medical assistance to U.S. crewmembers, the Philippine Coast Guard and navy brought in equipment to help mitigate any fuel spills that may occur during the removal of the ship.
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The park is located in the middle of the Sulu Sea and encompasses nearly 100,000 hectares (247,000 acres) of marine habitat, including three atolls. Thousands of marine species call the park home, many of which are familiar in the aquarium trade.