Sci-tech

British Cruise Ship Severely Damages One of Indonesia's Most Pristine Coral Reefs

British Cruise Ship Severely Damages One of Indonesia's Most Pristine Coral Reefs

Ricardo Tapilatu, head of the Research Center for Pacific Marine Resources at the University of Papua, said, "This is what we found during our investigation into the site". One of the main income-generating activities in the area is their tourism, which relied heavily to the pristine coral reefs.

'Anchor damage from ships like these is bad enough, but actually grounding a ship on a reef takes it to a whole new level.

But on 4 March, the 4,290-tonne Caledonian Sky, owned by British company Noble Caledonia, was completing a bird-watching tourism trip on Waigeo Island when it veered slightly off course. After several attempts the Caledonian Sky was finally free (helped by higher tide) to resume its journey to the Indonesian island of Sulawesi (before departing to the Philippines).

Stay Raja Ampat, a website that links tourists up with homestays, wrote on its Facebook page: 'How can this happen? Indonesia's Environment and Forestry Ministry began to identify the affected corals and to estimate the magnitude of the damage. Was a 12-year-old at the wheel?

The vessel had set sail from Papau New Guinea on February 25 and was scheduled to arrive in the Phillipines on March 14.

"This is a very, very big loss for us", Victor Nikijuluw, the marine programme director at Conservational International Indonesia, told AFP.


In a statement this week, a Maritime Affairs Ministry spokesperson said the destruction to the largely untouched Raja Ampat - known to have the greatest diversity in marine species in the world, according WWF - was "impossible to repair".

The British company who owns the Caledonian Sky described the incident as "unfortunate" and said it is "cooperating fully with the relevant authorities".

The ship has since been refloated and the company said that based on the inspection "the hull was undamaged and remained intact". The ship became trapped in shallow waters. Numerous attempts to free it using a tug boat failed, and only caused further damage to the corals.

Initial figures recommended by the evaluation team suggest that compensation in the region of $800 - $1,200 per sq m should be paid by the cruise company, as the reef is part of a national park and also one of the world's most spectacular dive sites.

The task force will assess the environmental damage and whether the captain and Noble Caledonia breached Indonesian laws.

A 2002 report from Conservation International said it was home to almost 1,400 varieties of fish and 603 species of coral.


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