NASSAU, Bahamas (CNS) – The Bahamas tourism minister Dionisio D’Aguilar has said the country might need to create new legislation to prevent cruise ships from dumping sewage in its waters.
D’Aguilar said he is very concerned about allegations emerging from a US court case that Carnival cruise ships had dumped nearly half a million gallons of sewage in Bahamian waters in 2017. Speaking to the local press, D’Aguilar explained that the government there had only learned that the cruise line was polluting its waters as a result of reports about a US judge threatening to ban Carnival ships from US ports.
Carnival Corporation was fined $40 million and given five years’ probation after pleading guilty in 2016 to numerous charges relating to illegal dumping in the oceans. When the company failed to address the issues and during the probation period illegally discharged nearly 500,000 gallons of treated sewage in Bahamian waters, Judge Patricia Seitz threatened to ban the cruise company from American ports and had also threatened to jail the directors.
D’Aguilar said this US case in Miami had “opened our eyes” to the need to enact laws and facilitate whistle-blowing to encourage reports of illegal dumping.
“While cruise ships are important to our economy, we don’t want to cause long-term, lasting, negative effects to our environment in our pursuit to get economic enhancement,” he said. “If there is no requirement for them to on their own be honest and report them to the American authorities, then we’re the small fish, they are certainly not going to report them to us.”
Carnival is slated to develop a new cruise port in Grand Bahama, and despite the company’s claim that environmental issues are extremely important to it, the US court found that in addition to the sewage dump in the Bahamas, the cruise line had committed numerous other environmental violations across the globe.
The cruise line is one of several companies that the Cayman Islands government recently cut deals with over the financing of the controversial cruise berthing project here, which poses massive environmental threats to the local marine environment.
As well as directly destroying acres of coral and several culturally and historically significant shipwrecks in George Town harbour within the proposed dredging area, many more acres are also going to be destroyed during construction as a result of the sediment that will settle on the surrounding reefs.
Whatever coral reefs that manage to survive that onslaught will remain under threat from the sediment caused by the coming and going of vessels once the berthing facilities are open.
Republished with permission of Cayman News Service