British cruise ship destroys one of world’s best coral reefs

Rappler.com
British cruise ship destroys one of world’s best coral reefs
(UPDATED) The incident caused damage to Crossover Reef in Raja Ampat, Indonesia, which has been voted among the best diving spots in the world.

JAKARTA, Indonesia (UPDATED) – Raja Ampat’s coral reefs are considered among the best in the world. But last week, about 1,600 square meters of it was destroyed by a British cruise ship.

On Saturday, March 4, cruise ship Caledonian Sky hit coral reefs at Crossover Reef, inflicting significant damage to one of the world’s most biodiverse reefs. It has been voted among the best diving spots in the world.

The 90-meter-long ship ran aground at low tide after bird watching on Waigeo island. It was on a 16-day trip from Papua New Guinea to the Philippines

According to an official evaluation team, the vessel owned by cruise operator Noble Caledonia was trapped in shallow water, despite the vessel’s radar and GPS monitoring tool. 

According to Ricardo Tapilatu, the Head of Research Center for the Pacific Marine Resources at the University of Papua, the situation was made even worse when a tugboat helped pull the vessel to deeper waters.

Tapilatu said that “shouldn’t have happened” and made the damage to the reef “even worse.”

“They should’ve waited for high tide,” Tapilatu said, as quoted by Mongabay

Tapilatu said the incident caused damage to the ecosystem and habitat structure of the area, as well as the loss of some types of coral reefs. Raja Ampat is known for its special underwater diversity.

Compensation

Tapilatu’s team recommends the company that owns the cruise ship pay compensation for the damage.

Suggested compensation amounted to about $800-$1,200 per square meter, or about $1.28 – $1.92 million total.

He said if the company were to dispute the amount, the government is likely to take them to court.

The Ministry of Environment also told Rappler it would dispatch a team to the location on Sunday, March 12, to verify and collect data.

“We have coordinated with the personnel of the Directorate General of Law Enforcement to prepare the demands of compensation. We will also set up a meeting with experts and calculate the total compensation,” said Director General of Pollution Control and Environmental Degradation, Karliansyah, in their report to the Minister of Environment and Forestry, Siti Nurbaya.

In a statement, Noble Caledonia company said it supported the investigation and vowed to cooperate.

“Noble Caledonia is firmly committed to the protection of the environment, which is why it is imperative that the reasons for it are fully investigated, understood and any lessons learned incorporated in operating procedures,” it said.

The ship was carrying 102 passengers and 79 crew members.

‘Very big loss’

There has been outrage in the local tourism industry which relies on Raja Ampat’s natural wonders for its survival.

“How can this happen? Was a 12-year-old at the wheel?” Stay Raja Ampat, a website that links tourists up with homestays, said on its Facebook page.

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

Environmental group Conservation International said that the Bahamas-flagged ship had gone into an area that it should not have entered due to the unique coral reefs.

“This is a very, very big loss for us,” Victor Nikijuluw, the marine program director at Conservational International Indonesia, told Agence France-Presse.

“Even when (the reefs) grow back, they will not be as pristine as they were before,” he added. – with reports from Uni Lubis and Agence France-Presse/ Rappler.com

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