Ministry to check damage to Raja Ampat coral reefs

  • Ministry to check damage to Raja Ampat coral reefs

Ministry to check damage to Raja Ampat coral reefs

When it moved to set sail, it ran aground on coral reefs, the Coordinating Ministry for Maritime Affairs said, and then sailed to Bitung without waiting for an assessment of the damage.

Raja Ampat in eastern Indonesia has always been a top attraction for travellers, home to islands surrounded by a kaleidoscope of coral and fish.

The Caledonian Sky cruise ship responsible had reportedly entered the area against the advisement of local guidelines in its trip from Papua New Guinea to the Philippines on March 4. Now that the reef is badly damaged, locals are anxious that it will greatly impact the appeal of their island to tourists.

The damage to the slow-growing hard corals is likely to take decades to fix, and the compensation fund will be used to assist with the rehabilitation of the reef, along with the possibility of installing buoys to prevent ships from sailing too close to the reef in future.

The ecosystem's fragile structural habitat has been destroyed, with the loss of coral genera diversity.

Noble Caledonia, the company that owns the ship, has since stated a fund to help the local population and is working with experts and the Indonesian government to determine a "fair and realistic" settlement to cover the damage. A rescue boat attempted to pull the ship out of the waters when it was not yet in high tide, causing damage to the coral reefs in the area. "Was a 12 year old at the wheel?" a horrified owner of a local homestay wrote on Facebook.

The company said it has provided this type of tour without incident for over 25 years.

According to Tapilatu, the evaluation team will recommend the company pay a hefty compensation of $800-$1,200 per square metre, for a total of $1.28 million-$1.92 million.

"The damage caused by boat anchors like this one is already serious enough, but the blockage of a liner in the reefs reaches a level never equaled", said the site.

Tapilatu added that the damage area stretched for more than 145,000-square-miles.

Although Noble Caledonia ships can be much smaller (the Caledonia Sky sleeps 57) than other tourist ships cruising the seas, it now joins a number of other cruise lines to face criticism after an environmental mishap. The director of Raja Ampat's tourism agency, Yusdi Lamatenggo, confirmed the accident in the archipelago located at the edge of the Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean.