NASSAU, BAHAMAS – A Norwegian Cruise Line vessel has voluntarily reported discharging operational waste in Bahamian waters, Minister of Transport and Local Government Renward Wells revealed yesterday.
The revelation comes just weeks after Carnival Corporation was found breaking numerous environmental violations, including dumping blackwater in Bahamian seas, amid an ongoing United States criminal environmental case.
“We recently learned of similar discharges from a Norwegian Cruise Line vessel, which was voluntarily reported to The Bahamas Maritime Authority (BMA) by Norwegian Cruise Line,” Wells said during a contribution in Parliament.
“Consequently, we are actively in touch with all other major lines that operate vessels within our waters.”
The transport minister said his ministry is also in close consultation with the Office of the Attorney General and the Ministry of Environment regarding the matter.
“I wish to assure you of the proactive policing and prevention of future incidents” Wells continued.
“…Let me make one thing clear and in doing so emphatically state that; we will defend our environmental sovereignty.
“Those who have breached our environmental laws will be made to account.
“The pristine lands and waters of The Bahamas is the inheritance of our people.
“It belongs to all Bahamians – to all of you, and to future generations of our beautiful nation.”
Last month the Court Appointed Monitor (CAM) in the Carnival Corporation case filed a 100-page report outlining numerous ongoing environmental violations committed by the cruise line and several of its brands over 90 days.
Those violations include air emissions; discharges to the sea, including Advanced Air Quality System washwater, ballast water, black water (sewage), chemicals, food waste, grey water, oil, recreational (e.g., pool/Jacuzzi) water, and solid items/garbage (including plastics); pollution prevention equipment maintenance and operation; and record keeping, including alleged training record falsification; unauthorized modification of a logbook with randomly adjusted numbers; multiple instances of missing or inadvertently destroyed logbooks; and errors and discrepancies discovered in log books and records.
Carnival Corporation reached a settlement with US federal prosecutors last year that mandated the company pay $20 million in fines for violating terms of its probation.
The company admitted to six violations of its Environmental Compliance Plan (ECP), one of which involves having its ship, Carnival Elation, discharge plastic mixed with food waste in Bahamian waters on December 16, 2018 in violation of the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL).
Attorney General Carl Bethel has assured that the government will enforce its environmental laws and seek compensation from Carnival Cruise Lines after more pollution incidents in Bahamian waters were recently exposed.
Yesterday, Wells noted the government has taken several proactive, comprehensive measures to address the issues.
He said the government has widely circulated the strict parameters of The Bahamas’ territorial waters as far as discharges at sea are concerned and advised the cruising industry and all international shipping that that absolutely no discharges will be tolerated.
He also said that with the help of the BMA the government is developing a broad database of potential past discharge locations along major routes.
Wells said efforts are being made to access all locations to determine any remedial action needed – which the government will look to the cruise lines to fund.
He noted that clear lines of reporting incidents and risks have been established for both Bahamian flag carrier vessels and other vessels within the country’s waters.
“Your government is moving forward on behalf of the people of The Bahamas to tighten, monitor and enforce our environmental law and protections across the board, including but not limited to prohibition; identification and testing; shipboard procedure; reporting; regulation and enforcement,” he added.
“We will ensure strict compliance at all times.”
A compendium of environmental bills were passed last year which would see environmental offenders face penalties of up to $30 million and 10 years in prison.
The bills included the Ministry Of Environment Bill, 2019; the Environmental Planning And Protection Bill, 2019; the Environmental Protection (Control of Plastic Pollution) Bill, 2019; the Bahamas National Trust Bill, 2019; the Bahamas Protected Areas Fund Bill, 2019 and the Tariff Amendment Bill 2019.