NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Bahamian environmental groups have joined the Global Cruise Activist Network, a worldwide group of citizen activists who are demanding the cruise industry doesn’t rush back to business-as-usual once ships set sail again.
Yesterday, reEarth from Nassau and Save the Bays from Grand Bahama joined activists from port communities around the world — Southampton, UK; Venice, Italy; Charleston, South Carolina; Monterey, California; and Hoonah, Alaska — for a virtual press conference to talk about the launch of the network.
The groups discussed the ways the cruise industry impacts their local communities, and introduce a global set of guidelines called the “Principles of Responsible Cruise Tourism”.
The Network is launching a global campaign to convince cruise ship companies to commit to following these best sustainability practices before their ships start sailing again. A recording of the virtual press conference is available on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/standearth/videos.
“One year ago, Hurricane Dorian woke up Bahamians to the threats we face from more powerful hurricanes and rising seas in a changing climate,” said Sam Duncombe, Executive Director of reEarth.
“For the better part of this year, the COVID pandemic has made us more aware of the danger cruise ship borne infectious diseases pose to our health and economy. The Bahamas Government needs to undertake a Environmental Impact Assessment to assure a fully-informed decision about the future of the cruise ship industry in The Bahamas post-COVID.”
Duncombe called on the government to take account of the new “Principles of Responsible Cruise Tourism” as it considers when and how cruise ships return to The Bahamas.
“The Government’s Assessment must be transparent about the economic benefits as well as the cultural and environmental costs,” she said.
“According to the Ministry of Tourism statistics, cruise passengers make up 75 percent of the visitors to the Bahamas, but only account for 11 percent of tourism revenue. In private cruise ports, cruise lines capture even a larger share of the revenues. The era of the private cruise port must come to an end.”
Joe Darville, Executive Director of Save The Bays said: “The public health dangers and environmental pollution from the cruise industry are well-known, but The Bahamas lacks the resources needed to effectively monitor the industry or prosecute infractions. It is time to stop issuing Flags of Convenience until the nation can take on the responsibility for assuring safety of the crews and passengers and compliance with strong environmental standards.”
reEarth and Save The Bays are partners in the Stop Disney – Last Chance for Lighthouse Point campaign which opposes Disney’s proposed private cruise ship port at Lighthouse Point, in a proposed Marine Protected Area on the island of Eleuthera.
More than 318,000 people have joined a petition to protect this unique natural place treasured by generations of Bahamians and people worldwide.
Disney submitted an Environmental Impact Assessment for the project to the government more than eight months ago and it needs to be updated to deal with the pandemic, the climate crisis, and environmental justice.
“Let’s make Lighthouse Point the place the Bahamas and Disney choose a different course towards a more sustainable future for Eleuthera and The Bahamas,” added Duncombe.