Maritime authorities indicate that not only global warming but cruise ships too are responsible for deterring coral reefs. Indonesian naval officials made an agreement with insurers regarding the damage created by grounding the Caledonian Sky, a vessel which struck coral reefs in West Papua and touched the bottom in Raja Ampat. A team of researchers estimated that this cruise ship deterred about 13,300 square meters of coral and damaged an additional 5,600 square meters.
Indonesian authorities reported grounded cruise ships to damage coral reefs
The assessment of the damage indicates larger areas compared to another survey developed by academic scientists. What is more, the government announced that this situation could become even worse if corals from the less affected areas will die too. Arif Havas Oegroseno, who is an official with Indonesia’s maritime affairs ministry, argued that the damaged coral reef has a 50% chance of survival.
The insurer and survey teams sent by the government of Indonesia are bound to pay a reexamination visit to the site, contributing to the development of a final damage assessment at the beginning of April. Indonesia’s Environment and Forestry Ministry is bound to estimate the value of the losses as part of a final agreement. Ricardo Tapilatu, scientists at the University of Papua’s Research Center for Pacific Marine Resources, argued after the initial survey that grounded cruise ships severely damaged 8 species of coral.
About 13,300 square meters of coral reef was destroyed
He also noted that the operator of the vessel needs to pay damages estimated at $200-$400 per square meter because of the significance of the site. Tapilatu also proposed a fee of valued at $800-$1,200, putting maximum damages into tens of millions of dollars. Raja Ampat is known to be a delicate diving site when it comes to the environment. Moreover, residents have expressed their concern regarding the revenue of tourism and its potential impact. Ruben Sauyai, a diving instructor, argued that other locals work as farmers or fishermen, but most of them are in the sector of tourism.
The damage caused by grounding cruise ships has also destroyed the tourist sector. The coral reefs could take somewhere between 10 to 100 years to repair. Due to the environmental and economic importance of the site, Jakarta officials have invoked the British ambassador to complain about the dramatic situation because the owner of the ship is a UK-based company.
Image courtesy of: flickr