British cruise ship CRASHES into protected coral reef off Indonesia

The Caledonian Sky in Raja Ampat West Papua Indonesia

Some (like the Caledonian Sky) are tour company vessels, others are privately owned.

The Indonesian government says it will take strong action in response to the destruction of coral reefs by a cruise ship at a popular tourist destination.

The Caledonian Sky passed through Raja Ampat waters on March 4 to bring 102 tourists on board to enjoy birdwatching on Waigeo.

An official evaluation team found that the ship had been caught in low tide despite being equipped with modern Global Positioning System and radar instruments, according to team member Ricardo Tapilatu, head of the research center for pacific marine resources at the University of Papua.

The local tourism office Stay Raja Ampat asked on its Facebook page: "How can this happen?" The standard rate of compensation for damage to coral reefs in Indonesian waters is between $200-400 per square meter. "They should've waited for high tide".

"The types of reefs that were damaged by the ship are Genus Porites, Acropora, Poicilopora, Tubastrea, Montipora, Stylopora, Favia and Pavites".

"It damaged the reef even worse", Ricardo Tapilatu told the Mongabay environmental news site.

Due to Raja Ampat's special biodiversity, as well as the fact that the damage occurred in a national park, the evaluation team will recommend the opertator pay compensation of $800-$1,200 (£650-£985) per square metre, for a total of $1.28m-$1.92m, according to Mr Tapilatu.

Noble Caledonia, the UK-based tour company which operates the ship, said in a statement to the Jakarta Post that it deeply regretted the accident.

Describing the incident as "unfortunate", a spokesman said "it is imperative that the reasons for it are fully investigated, understood and any lessons learned incorporated in operating procedures".

Indonesia's Environment and Forestry Ministry has deployed its staff to identify the damaged coral reefs and collect evidence that they will use to demand compensation from the British company.

"If the ship's owners disagree with the claim, we can expect the government to take the case to court", Ricardo said.

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