Asia Dive News : Greenpeace fined for Philippine coral reef damage
Environmental group Greenpeace has been fined almost $7,000 for damaging a coral reef at a World Heritage site in the Philippines.
Their flagship Rainbow Warrior II ran aground at Tubbataha Reef Marine Park, in the Sulu Sea, 650km south-east of Manila.
Park officials said almost 100 sq m of reef had been damaged.
Greenpeace agreed to pay the fine, but blamed the accident on outdated maps provided by the Philippines government.
"The chart indicated we were a mile and a half" from the coral reef when the ship ran aground, regional Greenpeace official Red Constantino told AFP news agency.
"This accident could have been avoided if the chart was accurate," he said, adding, however, that Greenpeace felt "responsible" for the damage.
The accident happened while the Rainbow Warrior was on a four-month tour of the Asia-Pacific region to promote environmentally-friendly energy sources.
Greenpeace divers were at the Tubbataha park, off the coast of Palawan island, to inspect the effect of global warming on the coral reef.
Mr Constantino said the reef appeared to be healthy, with no evidence of bleaching which is believed to be caused by warmer sea temperatures.
The Rainbow Warrior II escaped serious damage and was towed into deeper water by its own rubber boats.
Tubbataha park manager, Angelique Songco, praised the work Greenpeace was doing to protect the environment.
"We also appreciate the immediate action they took to get the full assessment of the damage," she said.