Second ship grounds on Philippine reef

April 10, 2013 at 12:09 PM

MANILA, April 10 (UPI) -- A Chinese fishing vessel has become the second ship in recent months to run aground on a protected reef in the southern Philippines, officials say.

Only nine days ago, a U.S. Navy minesweeper was cut up and removed from the Tubbataha Reefs National Refuge after becoming stuck in January, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported Wednesday.

The 157-foot Chinese vessel carrying a crew of 12 ran around in the sanctuary late Monday night, said park superintendent Angelique Songco.

A Philippine Coast Guard vessel removed the men from the ship.

The crew has been detained and officials said charges of poaching and illegal entry are expected to be filed against them.

Authorities have not yet released an estimate of damage done to the reef by the grounding.

Senatorial candidate Jamby Madrigal said it was "obvious" the Chinese were fishing in restricted waters. Madrigal successfully sponsored a bill to protect the reef in a previous term and called on the government to "save Tubbataha from further intrusions."

The groundings of the Chinese vessel and the USS Guardian "require a serious review of how our Navy and Coast Guard patrol our maritime boundaries," said Sen. Loren Legarda in a statement.

Songco said dried fish, but no catch, was found aboard the Chinese boat.

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