50 years needed to restore Raja Ampat coral reef destroyed by cruise ship: Indonesian minister

File photos taken on March 4, 2017 shows the Caledonian Sky (top), which smashed into pristine coral reefs causing extensive damage (bottom) in Raja Ampat, Indonesia.
File photos taken on March 4, 2017 shows the Caledonian Sky (top), which smashed into pristine coral reefs causing extensive damage (bottom) in Raja Ampat, Indonesia. PHOTO: AFP
A handout photo made available by Indonesian Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry on March 15, 2017 shows Indonesian officers as they inspect the damaged coral reefs in Raja Ampat.
A handout photo made available by Indonesian Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry on March 15, 2017 shows Indonesian officers as they inspect the damaged coral reefs in Raja Ampat.PHOTO: EPA
A handout photo made available by Indonesian Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry on March 15, 2017 shows the damaged coral reefs after cruise ship 'The Caledonian Sky' crashed into it in Raja Ampat, Indonesia.
A handout photo made available by Indonesian Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry on March 15, 2017 shows the damaged coral reefs after cruise ship 'The Caledonian Sky' crashed into it in Raja Ampat, Indonesia.PHOTO: EPA

JAKARTA - It will take 50 to 100 years for the Raja Ampat coral reef destroyed by a British cruise ship to be restored, Indonesia's Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs Luhut Pandjaitan told reporters on Friday (March 17).

"The environment has been affected, fish have disappeared. This is a major problem which we take very seriously. No one should take it lightly," Mr Luhut said.

The cruise ship Caledonian Sky ran aground in waters off Raja Ampat Islands in West Papua province on March 4, destroying nearly 13,000 sq m of coral reefs in what is often described as a pristine beach paradise.

The scale of the damage was caused by the ship's captain Keith Michael Taylor attempting to free the vessel after it ran aground on the reef, said Mr Luhut.

The minister was speaking to reporters on Friday, after meeting the British ambassador to Indonesia, Mr Moazzam Malik, who had been summoned over the issue.

 

Mr Luhut earlier said the same captain had made a similar mistake before. On that occasion, the cruise ship entered shallow waters off Medan, North Sumatra, also destroying the corals there.

Said Mr Moazzam after the meeting: "We hope the matter can be resolved quickly between the Indonesian authorities and the company that is responsible for this accident and was managing the ship."

 

The ambassador added: "I'm disappointed to learn about the damage to this coral reef in West Papua, as we are with any environmental incident that occurs in Indonesia or anywhere else in the world."

Mr Moazzam said he has yet to verify that Capt Taylor is a British national, as reported by the media, but information gathered shows that he lives in the United States and is employed by a Swedish company.

Noble Caledonia, the cruise operator, is based in London.

Mr Luhut admitted that the case is complicated: The ship captain holds a British passport but lives in Florida; the Bahamas-flagged vessel is owned by a Swedish company; and the passengers booked their cruise in Britain.