After the devastating reef damage along the Karimunjawa archipelago in March, the Central Java Regional Representative Council has formed a special committee to investigate the coal barge suspects.
According to Riyono, a Regional Representative tasked on the case, the damage caused by the barges is serious and is classified an urgent issue.
The damaged reef is part of the Karimunjawa National Park, a marine conservation area with mangrove forests, beaches and coral reefs in the Java Sea.
The Central Java Criminal Detective Directorate now have a clearer idea of which barge damaged the Karimunjawa Reef.
“There are three barge ships that are under investigation now,” the Central Java’s Criminal Detective Director Lukas Akbar Abriari said, as quoted by Tempo.
The three barges hail from Surabaya, he said, and investigations will continue.
Abriari said the barges which allegedly damaged the reef have violated parking regulations by intentionally parking ships in inappropriate locations and are then dragged over reefs by the current. He further explained that if the suspect is proven to be at fault, the perpetrator will be sentenced with criminal law under Environmental Legislation.
The suspicions of investigators are supported by non-governmental organisations which say coal barges often take shelter in Karimunjawa waters when they are caught in bad weather, causing frequent damage to the reefs.
Amiruddin, Deputy of the Indonesian Coral Reef Action Network, said that a study conducted by the organisation found coal barges had damaged acropora, non-acropora, dead scleractinia, algaes and also abiotic components of the Karimunjawa waters. This degradation will eventually lead to an imbalanced ecosystem, the organisation warned.
On Saturday, May 27, the Jepara Regional Representative Council reported the case to the Coordinating Ministry of Maritime. The regional council hopes the report will see a solution found by coordinating investigations and eventual charges with the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, the Ministry of Transportation and the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries.
The Ministry of Environment and Forestry has said there are at least to paths of action that can be followed to settle the issue, through both criminal and civil jurisdiction, particularly a law regarding biodiversity.
Deputy Assistant of Maritime Security and Resilience Coordinator Basilio Araujo Diaz said the punishment under the law currently is too light for the damage caused.
“The punishment is too light. Just one year of prison and penalty of Rp.50 million (US$3,750). We will take a deeper look on this case under the Law number 32 of 2017 in which it is regulated that the perpetrator get a heavier criminal punishment and civil penalty through jurisprudence,” Diaz said.
Jepara Regional Representative Council Vice Chairman H. Pratikno said with the help of the ministries the case will be accelerated, saving Karimunjawa’s ecosystem and local industries which depend on the waters.
Image credits: Lakey Banget