An anemone fish swims near sea anemones living on the coral reefs in the sea at Raja Ampat Islands, Indonesia, Nov. 26, 2012. (Xinhua/Jiang Fan)
by Abu Hanifah
JAKARTA, March 14 (Xinhua) -- Indonesia has set up a team tasked with assessing environmental damages and forms of compensation from British cruise ship Caledonian Sky, which recently crashed onto coral reefs in Indonesia's pristine coral sanctuary of Raja Ampat in the easternmost province of Papua.
Indonesian Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya said that her ministry and office of Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs had set up the team shortly after received information about the mishap.
"We already got the information about the cruise ship and the agent that runs it. There will be Indonesian legal enforcer task force assigned to asses legal aspect over the incident and another team tasked to assess the environment damages. They would determine how bad the damage was as well its value," Nurbaya said on Monday.
The team is also assigned to look into extradition possibility should it needs to be conducted over the ship crews during legal proceeding over the case in Indonesia.
The team also involves military, police, general prosecutor office and Papua regional governments.
The minister said the team members had dived the waters around Kri island where the crash occurred, checking the severity of damages. Kri island is among isles in Raja Ampat.
According to the minister, Caledonian Sky cruise ship is now sailing in the Philippines waters.
An official at Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs Arif Havas pointed out that the government would do all it takes to make Caledonian Sky responsible over the mishap that has destroyed one of world's most beautiful coral reef sites.
"We are ready to take steps considered necessary to assure the incident would not cost the public, recover the environmental damages caused by the incident," he said.
The mishap occurred on March 4 after the British cruise ship weighing 4,290 tons insisted to get out from Raja Ampat waters after landed 102 passengers in Waigeo to undertake bird watching tour session.
The cruise ship insisted to go when waters in Raja Ampat receded, leading to severe damage on coral reef canopy below the waters around the Kri island.
Head of Sea Resources Study Center at Papua University Ricardo Tapilatu who took part in the damage assessment process said that around 1,600 square meters of coral canopy was damaged due to the incident.
He added that the cruise ship is equipped with GPS and radar device. It was not known how the ship can be trapped in the shallow waters.
"The ship was then tugged out from the scene, something that should not be happening. They should wait until the sea water raise up again," he said.
Alexander Stubbs who documented the damaged coral related to the incident said recently that severity of the damages reaches 9 to 10 in a scale of 1 to 10.
Tapilatu said the firm that operates the cruise ship should pay compensation up to 1.92 million U.S. dollars for the damages.
"Should the firm refuses to pay, regional government may bring the case to the court," he said over the weekend.
The compensation funds should be used to finance efforts to recover the coral reef whose process may take a decade period of time and to procure buoys to prevent ships from entering waters during sea regress period.