A British cruise ship has done massive damage to the pristine coral reef oral near Kri Island, off Raja Ampat, Indonesia, inviting fierce criticism from local people as well as authorities.
The Caledonian Sky was returning from a bird watching trip on Waigeo Island on March 4 when it veered a little off the predefined course and hit the reef. An investigation was conducted to determine the cause of the incident and also calculate the amount of damage done and results indicate that the Caledonian Sky entered this unchartered territory without consulting the local guides.
Inspection of the ship revealed that while the hull was damaged due to the crash, it was intact and all 102 passengers and 79 crew members were safe. The owner of the ship – Noble Caledonia – revealed in a press statement that there was no need to evacuate the 4,290-tonne ship following the incident.
Local residents of Raja Ampat say that apart from the damage to the ‘untouched’ beach paradise, their local economy has received a huge blow as it primarily depends on snorkelling and scuba – diving tourism. Coral reefs act as a trigger to attract tourists in the region.
Indonesia’s environment and Forestry Ministry has deployed its staff to identify the amount of damage done and also collect evidence that will be further utilised to demand compensation from Noble Caledonian. While the company has termed the setback, ‘an unfortunate incident’, they claim that their company is firmly committed to protecting the environment but did not mention anything about compensation. The damage approximately amounts to $18 million.
Insurance companies may be willing to cover environmental damage but that doesn’t dissolve the criminal aspect of the case. Indonesian authorities believe that the captain has committed a criminal offence and may face jail time, if convicted.
In a statement Noble Caledonia has said they are working with the Indonesian Government as well as a local reef assessment expert to establish a “fair and realistic” settlement to cover the damage caused to a coral reef by Caledonian Sky.
“We are working with local experts to understand how we can assist with the regeneration of the reef. We value our relationships around the world with local people and we are sorry to have impacted the local community. To this end Noble Caledonia has established a fund with the aim of helping the local population and contributing to the repair of the reef. We would like to send our own Expedition teams to help with the regeneration”, Noble Caledonia said.