- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 15, 2017

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) - Indonesia’s government said Wednesday that a British-owned cruise ship must pay compensation for the destruction of coral reefs in a popular tourist area known for its extensive marine biodiversity.

The 4,200-ton cruise ship M.V. Caledonian Sky ran aground in the waters of Raja Ampat in West Papua province last week, causing extensive damage to the coral reefs.

Vice President Jusuf Kalla said the ship must pay for the damage it caused.

Brahmantya Satyamurti Poerwadi, a senior official at the Ministry of Maritime and Fisheries, said the government will soon file lawsuits against the ship and its captain, Keith Michael Taylor. He added that the ship, which is now in the Philippines, could be summoned for an investigation.

Poerwadi said the ship violated both the 2004 Law on Fisheries and the 2009 Law on Environment Protection.

Each law carries jail terms of up to three years for negligence that leads to destruction.

The ministry described the damage to the reefs as irreparable. A preliminary investigation found that about 1,600 square meters (17,200 square feet) of coral in the heart of the islands was destroyed. Poerwadi said a team was investigating the full extent of the destruction.

Raja Ampat is an archipelago with more than 1,500 small islands, cays, and shoals and is known as a center of marine biodiversity.

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