In March, we reported to you that a cruise ship had run aground on a pristine coral reef in the Raja Ampat National Marine Park. The Caledonian Sky hit the reef during low tide and instead of waiting for high tide, was refloated with the help of a tugboat, causing additional damage. See our post: Pristine Coral Reef in Raja Ampat Damaged by Cruise Ship
The Indonesian Government immediately launched an investigation that now estimates that the damage to the Raja Ampat reef is much greater than what was previously thought. More than 13,000 square meters of coral were totally destroyed with another 5,600 square meters having received “medium damage.”
Arif Havas, of Indonesian Maritime Affairs, stated that “coral with medium damage only have a survival rate of 50 percent”.
It was suggested that because of the unique biodiversity of Raja Ampat’s reefs and its status as one of the world’s preeminent dive sites, that compensation sought would be higher than the normal $200-$400 per square meter of damaged reef. Both the Indonesian government and the boat’s owners Noble Caledonia, have agreed on the damage estimates. (photo – Jonathan Chase)
One Good Result from a Horrible Situation
The damage to the Raja Ampat Reef has focused attention on the Marine Park’s unique and fragile underwater environment. Causing the Indonesian Ministry for Maritime Affairs to seek approval to upgrade Raja Ampat’s status to that of a “Particularly Sensitive Sea Area, a designation of the (IMO) or UN International Maritime Organisation.
Enhanced Protection With New Cruise Ship Guidelines
This new status will provide enhanced protection and set new guidelines determining the numbers and sizes of foreign cruise ships allowed in the protected area.
“We can learn from the underwater tourism in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, where cruise ships can still enter sensitive sea areas,” said Oegroseno. the deputy minister. “However, there are clear boundaries to prevent such activities from damaging the marine ecosystem.” See the entire article at Mongabay.
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See our Blue ocean posts on Coral Reefs and Cruise Ship Damage: