The coral reefs have survived tens of thousands of years of natural change, but many of them in Raja Ampat waters may not be able to survive the havoc brought on by the Bahamma-flagged Caledonian Sky cruise ship.
The MV Caledonian Sky had crashed into the worlds most beautiful coral reefs in Raja Ampat waters and run aground on March 4.
Developed by nature for hundreds of years, the coral reefs in Raja Ampat were destroyed in less than a day by the Caledonian Sky cruise ship, skippered by Keith Michael Taylor.
The damage to coral reefs in Raja Ampat will affect not only the tourism sector in the district, but also various critical aspects of human life, and it should not be viewed as merely a loss of marine biodiversity.
It will also greatly affect food security, income, the stability of the whole ecosystem, and could increase the threat of coastal disasters.
Once corals are breached, they die and can no longer contribute to the biodiversity of the reef community, and since the disruption of one ocean system impacts all the others, sea grass and mangroves, shallow-water plant species vital to the health of the marine ecosystem, are also threatened by coral stress.
Following the destruction of coral reefs brought by the Caledonian Sky, tourism sector in Raja Ampat will be negatively impacted.
"There will be a lot of multiplier effect, such as income from the tourism sector that is dominant in Raja Ampat will be greatly reduced," Marine and Fisheries Ministrys Director General for Sea Space Management Brahmantya Satyamurti Poerwadi remarked in Jakarta on Wednesday.
Brahmantya also confirmed that the extent of loss due to the incident will continue to be detailed so as to rehabilitate the damaged coral until they return to normal as before.
The incident has resulted in the destruction of the ecosystems structural habitat and a reduction or loss in the diversity of eight coral genera, including acropora, porites, montipora, and stylophora.
Further, Brahmantya stated that Law Number 32 of 2009 on Natural Conservation and Law Number 31 of 2004 on fisheries was also violated during the incident.
He remarked that the Marine and Fisheries Ministrys review indicated that the damage caused to the cruise ship will be considered a penal crime, and at least the ships captain should be held responsible for it.
The Ministry of Environment and Forestry should be tasked with conducting the investigation, since it holds the detailed data, according to Brahmantya.
Hence, the Ministry of Tourism is encouraging the realization of tourism cruise routes to anticipate the case of the Caledonian Sky, which damaged the reefs in Raja Ampat.
"We are encouraging all sides to make a cruise route map to anticipate such an incident," the Deputy Assistant for Southeast Asia Market Development at the Ministry, Rizky Handayani, said here on Thursday.
Rizky said the MV Caledonian Sky incident had occurred due to the carelessness of the ships captain, who had miscalculated the tide.
Some parties have highlighted the need to take penal action against those found guilty of inflicting damage to Raja Ampats reefs.
"Penal action should be taken against Captain Keith Michael Tailor following his negligence in performing the duties of a ship leader, such as miscalculating the waves, currents, and natural conditions," Herman Khaeron, a member of the Indonesian House of Representatives, stated in Jakarta on Thursday.
According to the politician from the Democrat Party, a penal action is required, as the captain had violated Law Number 32 of 2009 on environment conservation and Law Number 1 of 2014 on the management of seaside and small islands areas.
He added that the government should also continue to supervise and monitor the conservation area, which has become an asset of Indonesias natural wealth.
The government will also conduct a survey along with SPICA Service Indonesia, the boat insurance service agency in Indonesia, on Friday to assess the losses due to the damage to the reefs.
Deputy of Maritime Sovereignty Coordination Arif Havas Oegroseno noted that the government had contacted the agency that owns MV Caledonian Sky and SPICA to discuss the responsibility claim for the damage caused to the coral reefs in Raja Ampat on March 4.
"Does the insurance cover the compensation for the reef damage and other related losses or only covers the penal action against the captain?" he questioned.
Dony, the branch manager of SPICA Services Indonesia, which represented the ships owner, said his side will offer compensation for the claim submitted by the third party, with a requirement of a survey and on-site data verification.
However, since the government has already deployed the survey team, which will return to Jakarta this Saturday, they will renew the deal and will hold a joint survey of the site involving the Indonesian and SPICA teams.
According to SPICA Services Indonesia, the identification and verification processes by the government and insurance agency should be accelerated by conducting a joint survey.