http://coral.org

There has been outrage in the local tourism industry which relies on Raja Ampat’s natural wonders for its survival. Coral grows in the waters off Raja Ampat’s Kri Island located in eastern Indonesia’s Papua region.

The pristine coral reefs were cruelly smashed by a British owned cruise ship. This caused extensive damage in the remote corner of Indonesia. The researchers and officials claim that the remote corner was well known as one of world’s most biodiverse marine habitats.Eastern Indonesia specifically the Raja Ampat is been attracted by the travellers and avid divers.

The ship had been grounded despite having GPS and radar instruments.

It destroyed the ecosystem’s structural habitat and the reduction or loss of diversity of eight coral genera, including acropora, porites, montipora and stylophora.

But the 4,200-ton British owned cruise named Caledonian Sky slammed into the reefs at low tide around Kri, one of hundreds of small islands in Raja Ampat, earlier this month after taking the tourists aboard on a bird-watching expedition.

The boat carrying 102 passengers and 79 crew members became grounded on the reefs and to bring them up a tug boat was required,

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

The Marine program director , Victor Nikijuluw, claims that a very big loss has been done to the natural biodiversity of Raja Ampat. But the worst part was that the tug took numerous attempts to refloat the massive vessel, causing even more damage to the reef.

Noble Caledonia, the British-based company that operates the Caledonian Sky, said in a statement they were “very upset” by the damage to the coral reef and were working to reach a settlement with the government.

The British cruise company said that they were firmly committed to the protection of environment. There were guilty and having deep regrets for the damage caused to the reef! The Indonesian government said it was assessing the impact and would seek compensation.

“This will not be tolerated,” Indonesian foreign ministry spokesman Arrmanatha Nasir said. “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.