Indonesia: Caledonian Sky shipwreck brings huge loss to Raja Ampat

Otniel Tamindael Antara 16 Mar 17;

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The British-owned cruise ship MV Caledonian Sky, which ran aground onto a coral reef off Raja Ampat District in West Papua on March 4, 2017, has brought a huge loss to the district.

Raja Ampat District Government stated that the shipwreck of Caledonian Sky, which was carrying hundreds of tourists and 79 crew members, was due to the negligence of the captain of the cruise ship.

The 4,290-tonne ship, which was on a 16-night journey from Papua New Guinea to the Philippines, damaged approximately 1.3 hectares of coral at a diving site known as Crossover Reef in Raja Ampat.

The accident resulted in the destruction of the ecosystems structural habitat and the reduction or loss of diversity of eight coral genera, including acropora, porites, montipora, and stylophora.

Raja Ampat Tourism Office Chief Yusdi Lamatenggo remarked in West Papua provincial city of Sorong on Wednesday that the 90-meter ship, owned by tour operator Noble Caledonia, came to the island of Gan for bird-watching but was unnoticed by the local government.

Lamatenggo noted that Raja Ampat District Government learned of the ship after reports that it ran aground and inflicted significant damage to one of the worlds most bio-diverse reefs, which have been voted among the best diving spots in the world.

The results of field investigations conducted by the local government indicated that the vessel entered Gam island through the proper channels, but followed the wrong path and ran aground after the bird-watching activity.

Hence, he remarked that the government considered the incident to be caused by the negligence of the captain of the sophisticated ship, which had highly sophisticated detection tools.

An official evaluation team revealed that the Caledonian Sky cruise ship had been caught in low tide despite being equipped with GPS and radar instruments.

Therefore, the Government of Indonesia will immediately summon the ship and file a lawsuit related to the case of the damage to coral reefs in the waters of Raja Ampat.

"The lawsuit will soon be made. The Caledonian Sky is now in the Philippines, and we will make a warrant for summoning and examination," the Maritime and Fisheries Ministry Director General for Sea Space Management, Brahmantya Satyamurti Poerwadi, remarked in a press conference in Jakarta on Wednesday.

Further, Lamatenggo, the Raja Ampat Tourism Office chief, said that the central government has formed an integrated team to deal with the damage of coral reefs caused by the ship.

According to him, the team was formed by Coordinating Ministry of Maritime Affairs with the involvement of Maritime and Fisheries Ministry, Environment and Forestry Ministry, Transportation Ministry, Tourism Ministry, and the police.

The integrated team will seek accountability on the part of the cruise ship for the damage of coral reefs.

"In addition, Raja Ampat District Government has also formed an assessment team to conduct studies as well as calculate the losses incurred due to the damage of the coral reefs," he revealed.

In the meantime, Ricardo F Tapilatu, the head of the Research Center for Pacific Marine Resources at the University of Papua, has said on separate occasion that the assessment team will recommend the company pay compensation of US$800-$1,200 per square meter.

Tapilatu noted that if the ships owner disagrees with the claim, then the government will take it to court. If the company and government can reach an agreement, it will likely take a year or two for the district administration to receive the cash.

He said the money would be used to revive the reef, a process which could take a decade; set more mooring buoys across the area to prevent ships from sailing into shallow zones; and to map out sailing tracks.

According to Agence France-Presse (AFP), tour operator Noble Caledonia, which owns the Caledonian Sky, said in a statement that 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 incident must be fully investigated, understood, and any lessons learned incorporated in operating procedures," it said.

There has been an outrage in the local tourism industry, which relies on Raja Ampats natural wonders for its survival.

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.

Known as the most biodiverse marine habitat on earth, the Indonesian archipelago of Raja Ampat is an ideal destination for both local and foreign tourists to relax and unwind.

The visitors have the opportunity to witness a multitude of marine habitats and coral reefs in one glance without having to swim a stroke.(*)


Regeneration of Raja Ampat coral reefs to take years: Ministry
Antara 16 Mar 17;

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The regeneration of coral reefs in Raja Ampat, West Papua, which suffered serious damage after a cruise ship MV Caledonia Sky ran aground in shallow waters in the area, would take years.

"The coral reefs would grow five centimeters per year, depending on the environmental conditions," Director General of Marine Space Management at the Maritime and Fisheries Ministry Brahmantya Satyamurti Poerwadi stated here, Wednesday.

A preliminary investigation revealed that various species of coral spread in an area of some 1.6 thousand square meters were damaged.

Poerwadi noted that the authority will undertake measures to restore the damaged coral reefs.

Meanwhile, Head of the ministrys research and human resources department Zulficar Muchtar remarked that it was the first incident involving such a huge ship and had caused extensive damage to the coral reefs.

The 4.2 thousand-ton cruise ship from the UK slammed into the reefs at low tide in Raja Ampat on Mar 4, after taking the tourists aboard on a bird-watching expedition.

The ship, with 102 passengers and 79 crew members aboard and led by captain Keith Michael Taylor, ran aground on the reefs and had to be refloated using a tugboat before continuing on its journey.

Earlier on Tuesday, the government said, it would calculate the losses due to the incident.

"We are calculating the losses. This is not just a matter of (seeking) compensation, but it would take years for them to regrow," Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan pointed out.

Pandjaitan affirmed that the Montara incident in Timor Sea would not be allowed to recur and damage Indonesias marine ecosystem.

A legislator of Commission IV Rahmad Handoyo stated that the authority should investigate the incident thoroughly.

"We should investigate why this cruise ship got trapped in shallow waters," he emphasized.

He deplored the incident and called on the government to intensify the protection of coral reefs.

(Reported by Muhammad Razi Rahman/Uu.S022/INE/KR-BSR/O001)


Indonesia wants compensation for damage in rare ridge of rock
Antara 16 Mar 17;

Purwakarta, West Java (ANTARA News) - The government of Indonesia might demand compensation for the damage of rare ridges of rock by tourist boat MV Caledonian Sky from Britain destroying 1,600 square meters of ridges of rock in Radja Ampat earlier this month.

"We just talked about the law of the sea. The opportunity is open for us to demand compensation (for the damage)," Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan said when on a visit here on Wednesday.

Luhut said he had formed a team in charge of the incident and the team would be sent to see the extent of damage caused by the tourist boat .

"The question is not the extent of the area being damaged but the ridge is very rare," he said.

The incident took place when the 4,200 GT MV tourist boat captained by Keith Michael Taylor with 79 other crewmen and 102 passengers, visited Raja Ampat on March 3, 2017.

After walking round one of the islands in Raja Ampat, enjoying the natural beauty, in one of tourist destinations rated best in the world, the tourists boarded the ship in midday on March 4.

The boat then proceeded the journey to Bitung in northern Sulawesi, at 12.41 local time . On its way to Bitung , MV Caledonian Sky stranded and trapped on ridges of rock .

In a bid to get out of the trap the captain first relying on the directions given by its GPS and radar failed .

A tug boat TB Audreyrob Tanjung Priok then arrived in the location to drag MV Caledonian Sky away , but also failed as the tourist boat was too heavy.

Finally , the captain succeeded in moving his ship and continued the journey at 23.15 local time on March 4, 2017.(*)


Government forms team to handle coral damage in Raja Ampat
Antara 16 Mar 17;

Sorong, West Papua (ANTARA News) - The central government has formed an integrated team to handle the coral damage in Raja Ampat District, West Papua Province, according to Raja Ampat Tourism Office Chief Yusdi Lamatenggo.

According to Lamatenggo, the coral reefs in Raja Ampat were severely damaged by MV Caledonian Sky, a British-owned cruise liner, which ran aground on March 4, 2017, at low tide.

The cruise ship rammed into the coral reefs and damaged approximately 1.3 hectares of them at a diving site known as the Crossover Reef in Raja Ampat.

Lamatenggo remarked here on Wednesday that the team was formed by the Coordinating Ministry of Maritime Affairs with the involvement of the Maritime and Fisheries Ministry, Environment and Forestry Ministry, Transportation Ministry, Tourism Ministry, and the Police.

The integrated team will seek accountability from the owners of the cruise ship for the damage caused to the coral reefs in Raja Ampat as a result of the incident.

"In addition, the Raja Ampat district government has formed an assessment team to conduct studies and to calculate the amount of losses incurred due to the damage caused to the coral reefs," he added.(*)


Parties call for penal action in Raja Ampat reef case
Antara 16 Mar 17;

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Some parties have highlighted the need to take penal action against those found guilty of inflicting damage to Raja Ampats reefs, West Papua, several days ago, due to the MV Caledonian Sky cruise ship incident.

"Penal action should be taken against Captain Keith Michael Tailor following his negligence in performing the duties of a ship leader, such as miscalculating the waves, currents, and natural conditions," Herman Khaeron, a member of the Indonesian House of Representatives, stated in Jakarta on Thursday.

According to the politician from the Democrat Party, penal action is required, as the captain had violated Law Number 32 of 2009 on environment conservation and Law Number 1 of 2014 on the management of seaside and small islands areas.

He added that the government should also continue to supervise and monitor the conservation area, which has become an asset of Indonesias natural wealth.

Head of Marine Management of the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries (KKP) Brahman Satyamurti Poerwadi stated that Law Number 32 of 2009 on Natural Conservation and Law Number 31 of 2004 on fisheries were violated.

He remarked that the KKPs review indicated that the damage caused to the reefs is considered a penal crime, and at least the ships captain should be held responsible for it.

The Ministry of Environment and Forestry should be tasked with conducting the investigation since it holds the detailed data, according to Poerwadi.

The government will also conduct a survey along with SPICA Service Indonesia, the boat insurance service agency in Indonesia, on Friday, Mar 17, to assess the losses due to the damage to the reefs.

Deputy of Maritime Sovereignty Coordination Arif Havas Oegroseno noted that the government had contacted the agency that owns MV Caledonian Sky and SPICA to discuss the responsibility claim for the damage caused to the coral reefs in Raja Ampat on Mar 4.

"Does the insurance cover the compensation for the reef damage and other related losses or only covers the penal action against the captain?" he questioned.

Dony, the branch manager of SPICA Services Indonesia who represented the ships owner, said his side will offer compensation for the claim submitted by the third party, with a requirement of a survey and on-site data verification.

However, since the government has already deployed the survey team, which will return to Jakarta this Saturday, they will renew the deal and will hold a joint survey of the site involving the Indonesian and SPICA teams.

According to SPICA Services Indonesia, the identification and verification processes by the government and insurance agency could be accelerated by conducting a joint survey.

"The point is that we will not ignore this problem and will continue to coordinate with the government," Dony stated, adding that his side will sent an independent surveyor who is a reef expert from an Indonesian university.(*)


Indonesia vows action after UK cruise ship ruins coral reef
Awa Mulalinda, AFP Yahoo News 15 Mar 17;

Sorong (Indonesia) (AFP) - Indonesia on Wednesday vowed to take action after a British-owned cruise ship smashed into pristine coral reefs and caused extensive damage, as residents of the popular tourist site lamented "paradise" had been ruined.

The vice president demanded that the Caledonian Sky's operator pay compensation as authorities said a criminal act could have been committed and they may seek the extradition of the ship's captain.

Raja Ampat in eastern Indonesia is one of the most biodiverse marine habitats on Earth, and attracts intrepid travellers and divers to its palm-fringed islands surrounded by coral and fish.

The accident happened this month when the 4,200-ton ship smashed into the reefs at low tide around Kri, one of hundreds of small islands in Raja Ampat, after taking tourists on a bird-watching expedition.

The boat, which was carrying 102 passengers and 79 crew, became grounded on the reefs and only refloated later on a high tide. Numerous attempts to free it using a tug boat failed, and only caused further damage to the corals.

Residents of Raja Ampat, located in the remote eastern region of Papua, have expressed anger at the impact on tourism and livelihoods of fishermen, while the government has reacted with fury.

"The boat has insurance -- they have to pay," Vice President Jusuf Kalla said, referring to the ship's operator.

- 'Devastated' local community -

Indonesian foreign ministry spokesman Arrmanatha Nasir said that the devastation of the reef "will not be tolerated".

"The government is very concerned and very worried about this incident and certainly all steps will be taken to ensure accountability."

He added one step the government could take was to seek the extradition of the ship's captain back to Indonesia. Authorities say destruction of coral reef is against the law, and someone found guilty of deliberately carrying out such an act could be jailed for up to 10 years.

After Indonesia, the vessel sailed on to the Philippines and officials have expressed anger the captain did not stay in the country while the damage was still being assessed.

Martin Makusi, a local tourist guide and owner of a homestay in Raja Ampat, said he was "devastated" by the destruction of the reefs.

"This incident makes me sad, disappointed and angry because the coral reefs in Raja Ampat are like paradise for us," he told AFP.

Ricardo Tapilatu, a marine researcher from the University of Papua who headed a team assessing the impact, has said the March 4 accident damaged an estimated 13,500 square metres (145,000 square feet) of coral reef which could cost up to $16.2 million to restore.

Noble Caledonia, the British-based tour company that operates the Caledonian Sky, said they were "very upset" by the damage, were working to reach a settlement with the government and had set up a fund to help repair the reef.

"We value our relationships around the world with local people and we are sorry to have impacted the local community," the company said in a statement.


Environment Ministry to Take Over Raja Ampat Investigation
Jakarta Globe 17 Mar 17;

Jakarta. The Ministry of Environment and Forestry has taken over an investigation into the destroyed coral reefs off the shores of the Raja Ampat islands in West Papua after a British cruise ship ran aground earlier this month.

The Minister of Maritime Affairs, Susi Pudjiastuti, who had previously headed the investigation, handed the case over to the Environment Ministry on Thursday (16/03).

"The case will be handled by the Environment and Forestry Ministry and the Coordinating Maritime Ministry. We channeled our initial findings over to those ministries,” Susi said.

Meanwhile, the chief of staff of the Indonesian Navy, Adm. Ade Supandi, has ordered the main naval base near Raja Ampat to assist in providing security to the affected area.

Security monitoring will cover nearly 1,600 square meters of damaged coral reef beds caused by the British cruise ship Caledonian Sky.

Ade has also instructed Navy personnel to assist any related officials conducting investigations in the area.

"Even though it was not its intent, the cruise ship caused significant damage. I have instructed the nearby naval base to evaluate how the incident occurred," Ade said on Thursday.

"But it is clear that a state ministry will take charge. Whether they will decide to press charges or [apply] other measures, we will be provide any assistance needed," he added.

A preliminary investigation estimated that the cruise ship damaged nearly 1,600 square meters of coral reef at a diving site known as Crossover Reef, as the ship ran aground in shallow waters during low tide on March 4.

Experts involved in the investigation estimated that it will take years before the coral reefs begin to recover.

The central government will seek compensation of up to $1.92 million, according to the environmental science and conservation news and information website, Mongabay.


Local government to check sailing permit of MV Caledonian Sky
Antara 16 Mar 17;

Manokwari, West Papua (ANTARA News) - The West Papua provincial government will review the sailing permit of the British-owned cruise ship MV Caledonian Sky to enter into the waters of Raja Ampat, according to the local government spokesman Nataniel D. Mandacan.

"Any ship entering the territorial waters of West Papua should carry a permit, including if it entered into the Raja Ampat waters," Mandacan remarked here on Friday.

According to Mandacan, ships sailing into any territorial waters are required to carry a license, including the Bahamma-flagged Caledonian Sky, which entered the waters of Raja Ampat and crashed into a coral reef on March 4, 2017.

The chairman of the drafting team of the conservation of West Papua noted that he will immediately urge the local Department of Transportation to check if the cruise ship has a sailing permit, including for its trip in the waters of Raja Ampat.

Mandacan said the Caledonian Sky should have taken the right route by taking into account the conditions and depth of the sea.

"The ship must pay for the damage and (the government should) review if it has violated other rules that should have been followed," he said.

He added that the Caledonian Sky, which ran aground in the waters of Raja Ampat and caused extensive damage to the coral reefs in the area, was a serious concern for the West Papua provincial government, and that the central government, through the relevant ministry, has taken steps to resolve the case.

Investigations are still ongoing and the investigators, along with Indonesias conservation team, will reassess the damage caused by the Caledonian Sky.

According to the local police chief, the initial inquiry revealed that the direct impact of the incident was the destruction of 1,600 square meters of coral reefs in the territorial waters of West Weigeo in Raja Ampat.(*)


MV Caledonia Sky is owned by Swedish company: British ambassador
Antara 18 Mar 17;

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The MV Caledonia Sky cruise ship that damaged the coral reefs in Raja Ampat, West Papua, was owned and operated by a Swedish company.

"A cruise ship MV Caledonia Sky is owned and operated by a Swedish company and not a British firm," British Ambassador to Indonesia Moazzam Malik stated after a meeting with Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs Luhut Binsar Panjaitan here on Friday.

During the meeting, Ambassador Malik discussed and exchanged views with Senior Minister Panjaitan on the destruction of coral reefs in Raja Ampat, West Papua.

The ambassador expressed concern over the damage caused to the coral reefs in the region. The ambassador offered continued support to the Indonesian governments efforts to conduct investigations for dealing with the destruction to the coral reefs.

"The investigation is expected to be completed soon," the ambassador stated.

Meanwhile, Minister Panjaitan noted that the status of Captain Keith Michael Taylor was complicated.

"The captain is a British passport holder but lives in Florida, the US. A Swedish company operates the ship, but MV Caledonia Sky was bearing the flag of the Bahamas," the minister pointed out.

Hence, he will invite and contact representatives of these countries in an attempt to solve the problem.

He affirmed that the government will undertake all necessary efforts to file a lawsuit related to the case.

The MV Caledonian Sky cruise ship, which ran aground onto a coral reef off Raja Ampat District in West Papua on March 4, 2017, had resulted in a huge loss to the district.

The damage caused by Caledonian Sky, carrying hundreds of tourists and 79 crew members aboard, was due to the negligence of the its captain, according to the Raja Ampat district government.

The 4,290-tonne ship, which was on a 16-night journey from Papua New Guinea to the Philippines, damaged approximately 1.3 hectares of coral at a diving site known as the Crossover Reef in Raja Ampat.

The accident resulted in the destruction of the ecosystems structural habitat and the reduction or loss of diversity of eight coral genera, including acropora, porites, montipora, and stylophora.

Raja Ampat Tourism Office Chief Yusdi Lamatenggo remarked in the West Papua provincial city of Sorong on Wednesday that the 90-meter-long ship, owned by tour operator Noble Caledonia, sailed to the island of Gan for bird-watching but went unnoticed by the local government.

Lamatenggo noted that the Raja Ampat district government came to know of the ship after receiving reports that it had run aground and inflicted significant damage to one of the worlds most biodiverse reefs, which have been voted among the best diving spots in the world.

The results of field investigations conducted by the local government indicated that the vessel entered Gam Island through proper channels but followed the wrong route and ran aground after the bird-watching activity.

Hence, he remarked that the government believes the incident was caused due to the negligence of the captain of the sophisticated ship, which had advanced detection tools.(*)

Caledonian Sky’s captain made similar mistake in Medan: Minister
The Jakarta Post 17 Mar 17;
Coordinating Maritime Affairs Minister Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan has said the captain of UK cruise vessel MV Caledonian Sky, which recently ran aground in Raja Ampat, West Papua, had previously made a similar mistake, in which his vessel entered shallow waters in Medan, North Sumatra, destroying sea biota in the area.

“We have data on the ship captain’s mistake in Medan,” said Luhut on Thursday. Therefore, the minister said, he very much regretted the decision of local authorities to release and let the Caledonian Sky vessel’s captain to leave Raja Ampat waters after it damaged coral reefs in the area.

Luhut said his ministry would investigate the parties that had permitted MV Caledonian Sky to continue its travel after the incident. The vessel should have not been permitted to leave the area.

“We will look into it first. There might have been improper procedures [applied by our authorities]," he said as quoted by kompas.com in Jakarta on Thursday.

The government has dispatched an integrated team, which involves the Environment and Forestry Ministry, the Office of the Coordinating Maritime Affairs Minister and the Transportation Ministry.

Luhut said the government would also take legal action over the incident. “Within the next two or three days, an official statement from the government will be released."

National Police chief Gen. Tito Karnavian said MV Caledonian Sky’s captain and owner could face both criminal and civil lawsuits. In terms of criminal prosecution, the vessel’s captain could be charged with violating Law No.32/2009 on environmental protection and management.

The cruise ship ran aground in shallow waters in Raja Ampat and destroyed coral reefs in the area on March 4 when it carried 102 tourists who wanted to enjoy bird-watching in Waigeo. (hol/ebf)


Raja Ampat indigenous communities saddened by damaged coral reefs
The Jakarta Post 18 Mar 17;

Indigenous communities from Yembuba village in Raja Ampat regency, West Papua, were saddened by the damage to the coral reefs after British cruise vessel MV Caledonian Sky ran aground in shallow waters in the area last week.

“For decades, we have been preserving the coral reefs, which were even protected by our ancestors. But within hours, a cruise ship destroyed the 1.3-hectare area,” Yembuba village head Habel Sawiyai said as quoted by Antara in Sorong, on Friday.

He further said waters in Yembuba village were protected by a customary law local people called sasi. Sasi, which had been passed down generations, prohibited people from catching fish illegally and destroying coral reefs in the area.

The customary law also supported local administrations to conserve sea ecosystems for the development of tourism in Raja Ampat, he explained.

“Frankly, we, as traditional communities, feel sad to see damage to the coral reefs. Moreover, we have not been included by the government in the process to claim compensation for the damage,” said Habel.

Meanwhile, Raja Ampat Customary Council head Kristian Thebu said separately that the council fully entrusted the governmental process to claim compensation for the damaged coral reefs.

However, it would be ideal if the government could involve the residents of Yembuba village, who had lived in the area for generations watching over the conserved coral reefs that were destroyed by the cruise ship.

“Local people must be involved in the settlement of tourism problems in Raja Ampat,” said Kristian. (mrc/ebf)

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