The Philippine coastguard announced that it is detaining the entire crew of a logging ship that hit a coral reef in the central Philippines.
The “Unicorn Logger” left from Malaysia and was carrying logs to be unloaded in Japan. Reef crashes are a serious problem for archipelago nations in Southeast Asia. Aside from being very damaging to a vibrant natural habitat for sea-life, damaged reefs can have harsh consequences for human civilization too.
Unhealthy reefs reduce fish populations by destroying their homes and causng abnormal changes in water temperature. They also serve as vital wave and wind-breakers and greatly diminish violent storms blowing in from sea. According to Columbia University the global economic value of worldwide reefs sits at $375 billion largely due to the food and resources they provide annually.
These facts, combined with a spate of recent infractions, leads one to assume that this Vietnamese vessel will incur harsh penalties: Earlier this year in April Chinese poachers were caught only when their ship ran aground on the Tubbataha reef, which is a protected international landmark.
A U.S. Navy ship also crashed into the same reef even earlier in the year, and because of this the navy had to pay heavy fines. The ship had to be dismantled because it was so entrenched in the reef.
The Vietnamese crew will remain detained until the extent of the damage can be assessed by the Philippine Coast Guard.