Indonesia: Ministry declares 18,882 meter square of Raja Ampat coral reef damaged

Antara 21 Mar 17;

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - A total of 18,882 meter square of coral reef in the Raja Ampat sub-district, West Papua, had been declared damaged by the Coordinating Ministry for Maritime Affairs.

According to a press statement received here on Tuesday, the Ministrys Deputy of Maritime Sovereignty Arif Havas Oegroseno stated that both the survey teams, established by the Indonesian government and MV Caledonian Sky ships insurance company, had agreed to the total meter square of damaged coral reef.

Furthermore, Havas noted that the 18,882 meter square area was divided into two separate damage conditions.

"About 13,270 meter square of the total damaged area was totally destructed as it was ran aground by the cruise ship, while the rest of the 5,612 meter square area was moderately damaged as it was scourged by the sand and coral reef pieces that were disrupted by the ships movement. The latter now possess 50 percent life expectancy," he remarked.

Havas also noted that should the rehabilitation processes fail and the moderately damaged coral reef, with 50 percent life expectancy, end up dying, then the 5,612 meter square area will also be included under the totally destructed category.

Following the survey, both the teams had agreed to carry out their own investigations separately.

Both teams are then scheduled to conduct another meeting during the first week of April in Jakarta, with the discussion around the final survey results as the agenda.

"The valuation team will soon review the economical damages caused by the coral reef destruction," he said, adding that the valuation team will be led by the Ministry of Forestry and Environment.

It was previously reported that the team of various ministries, tasked with settling the Raja Ampat coral reef damage dispute, established a total of 22,060 meter square of survey area, along with British insurance company P&I Club.

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 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.(*)

Caledonian Sky destroyed more than 18,000 m2 of pristine Raja Ampat reefs, survey concludes
The Jakarta Post 22 Mar 17;

Survey teams from the government and the insurance company for the British-owned MV Caledonian Sky, which ran aground on coral reefs in West Papua’s famous Raja Ampat, have reached a conclusion regarding the area damaged by the cruise ship.

“The two teams have agreed that the ship damaged 18,882 square meters and both teams have signed an official letter together,” the deputy for maritime sovereignty at the Office of the Coordinating Maritime Affairs Minister, Arif Havas Oegroseno, said in press statement on Tuesday.

The damaged area has been divided into two categories. Some 13,270 square meters were heavily damaged while 5,612 square meters suffered medium damage. Still, the reefs damaged to a medium extent had only a 50 percent chance of survival, Havas said.

“If the medium-damaged coral reefs die then the area will be counted as total damage,” he said, adding that it would impact the valuation of the losses in parallel with the compensation claim.

Furthermore, the two survey teams had agreed to conduct a follow-up analysis, Havas said. The teams will meet in Jakarta to discuss the final survey results in the first week of April.

The follow-up will include the economic calculation of the total losses by a valuation team lead by the Environment and Forestry Ministry.

The 90-meter British-flagged vessel owned by cruise tour operator Noble Caledonia smashed into and destroyed coral reefs in the Dampier Strait off Raja Ampat on March 4. (rin)

Indonesia not yet ready to handle cruise ships: Official
The Jakarta Post 21 Mar 17;

Regardless of who will be blamed for the recent kerfuffle surrounding UK cruise ship the MV Caledonian Sky, which ran aground in Raja Ampat, West Papua, damaging coral reef in the area, the deputy minister for maritime sovereignty at the Office of the Coordinating Maritime Affairs Minister, Arif Havas Oegroseno, said it must be admitted that Indonesia was not yet accustomed to handling a large number of cruise ships.

Speaking to journalists during a recent interview, Arif Havas said it was only recently that cruise ship companies across the world included Indonesia as one of their destinations because of a string of regulations imposed by the government.

“They were previously somewhat reluctant to visit Indonesia. They just wanted to stop in Singapore. They didn’t want to enter Indonesia because of its [flawed] bureaucracy, its ‘red tape’ [illegal levies] and poor infrastructure,” he said as quoted by on Tuesday.

With a growing number of cruise ship visits, Arif Havas said infrastructure in Indonesia was not yet ready to handle the challenge.

“Our effort to draw in more ‘cruise visits’ to boost our tourist sector will certainly result in challenges,” he added.

One of the measures the government will take is to tighten regulations for cruise ships that pass through conservation areas such as Raja Ampat.

Arif Havas said in other conservation areas, such as the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, cruise ships were allowed to pass through but were subject to tightened regulations.

“It’s not a strange thing to have a cruise ship enter waters with coral reefs.”

Arif Havas said with the current availability of tourist infrastructure in the country, the government was still calculating how many cruise ships could safely enter Indonesian waters. (hol/ebf)

Chief Maritime Minister Demands Firmer Regulations to Manage Raja Ampat Islands
Amrozi Amenan Jakarta Globe 21 Mar 17;

Jakarta. Coordinating Maritime Affairs Minister Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan has called on the West Papua provincial administration to improve its regulations for managing the Raja Ampat Islands, a world-famous diving spot, after a British cruise ship damaged coral reefs there earlier this month.

A task force has been deployed to assess the damage caused by the ship, Caledonian Sky, when it ran aground in shallow waters during low tide on March 4. The team will also assess legal aspects of the case.

"We need firmer regulations, since Raja Ampat is our tourism destination that possesses [more] rare coral reefs [compared to other places] in the world," Luhut said in Gresik, East Java, on Monday (20/03).

The minister has yet to receive reports on the total damage.

However, a preliminary investigation showed that the damage covers nearly 1,600 square meters of coral reef at a diving site known as Crossover Reef.

"We have been in contact with the ship's insurer; they will take responsibility for the damage," Luhut added.

The central government will seek compensation of up to $1.92 million, according to the environmental science and conservation news and information website, Mongabay. Marine experts say it will take several years before the coral reefs begin to recover.

The Ministry of Environment and Forestry took over the investigation into the incident from Maritime Affairs Minister Susi Pudjiastuti last Thursday.

Raja Ampat Coral Damage Worse Than Expected
Ratri M. Siniwi Jakarta Globe 22 Mar 17;

Jakarta. More than 18,000 square meters of coral reef in Dampier Strait of Raja Ampat, West Papua, were damaged by Caledonian Sky cruise ship, a joint survey team has revealed earlier this week. The damage is more than 11 times bigger than a preliminary investigation suggested.

"Both parties [the national survey team and insurance survey team] have concluded that the damaged area is 18,882 square meters", Coordinating Maritime Affairs Deputy Minister Arif Havas Oegroseno said in a statement on Tuesday (21/03).

"[The area of] 13,270 square meters was badly damaged by the ship, while 5,612 square meters were destroyed by shockwaves," Arif said.

A follow-up in-depth analysis will be conducted in April, while another team will calculate the economic loss.

"The loss-assessment [team] will be led by the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, as mandated by the 2009 Law on the Protection of Environment," Arif said.

Meanwhile, Coordinating Maritime Affairs Minister Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan said the incident is also an international crime and will involve several foreign governments.

"The settlement has to involve the governments of the United Kingdom, Sweden and the Bahamas," Luhut said, as quoted Antara news agency.

Caledonian Sky cruise ship is owned and operated by Swedish company Salen, although it bore the flag of the Bahamas.

The ship's ticketing agent is registered in the UK and its captain, American resident Keith Michael Taylor, holds a British passport.

Despite the Caledonian Sky's good intentions to solve the issue, the Indonesian government is considering to take the case to an international court and seek higher compensation.

The islands off of West Papua are famously known by divers worldwide as a pristine location with unmatched underwater biodiversity. The waters of Raja Ampat have been recorded to be the home of 1,508 fish species, 537 coral species, 699 mollusk species and a plethora of other marine life.

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