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.