MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Environmental officials have filed a poaching complaint against 12 Chinese fishermen who were aboard a vessel that ran aground this week in a protected coral reef in the southwestern Philippines.
Adelina Villena, a lawyer for the Tubbataha National Marine Park, says the complaint was filed Wednesday with the Palawan provincial prosecutor. She says other complaints are being prepared against the fishermen for alleged offenses including damaging corals, attempting to bribe park rangers and carrying explosives in their vessel.
The steel-hulled vessel strayed Monday into the park in the Sulu Sea and struck an atoll, where it was stranded. A U.S. Navy minesweeper got stuck on the same reef and had to be dismantled recently.
The fishermen could face up to 12 years imprisonment and fines of up to $300,000.