Coral around the island of Ping Chau has been damaged by government construction work - approved by the department responsible for conservation. Researchers studying the coral have condemned the siting and construction of a temporary pier. The pier, part of an $83 million Marine Department project involving building a radar station on the island, has crushed and smothered coral. The head of the Swire Institute of Marine Science, Professor Brian Morton, said the pristine waters of Ping Chau in Mirs Bay warranted designation as a marine reserve. 'It is a great pity because this is well-recognised as being of great marine ecological significance,' he said. University researchers studying the territory's fish and corals, Andrew Cornish and Denise McCorry, say anchors from barges and sediment from the earth and concrete dumped to create the pier have destroyed many pieces of coral. Agriculture and Fisheries Department senior marine parks officer Edward Wong Cheuk-kee said the pier should have been constructed along the sandy shore line where no coral grows. But he admitted no specific instructions were relayed to contractors to avoid the coral. 'The project that was proposed was temporary, it is not a big thing. It should have been on a sandy shore where I don't think we have anything sensitive,' he said. The department is examining whether the contractors had moved the planned site of the pier.