NASSAU, BAHAMAS – As the Carnival Corporation has recently reached a settlement with United States Federal prosecutors that would see it pay $20 million in fines for violating the terms of its probation, Eric Carey, the Executive Director of The Bahamas National Trust (BNT) expressed on Tuesday that had the proper legislation been in place, these fines could have been paid to the Bahamian government.
Carey therefore called on the government to act now and put in place the proper legal framework to police Bahamian waters.
“As a sovereign nation, The Bahamas needs to be able to levy fines for dumping activity in our waters, which has a detrimental impact on our number one economy. It seems counterintuitive that none of these penalties are paid to The Bahamas Government, despite the fact the infringements are taking place in Bahamian waters,” Carey said.
Carnival Corporation has admitted to six violations of its Environmental Compliance Plan (ECP), including the discharge of 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.
Yesterday, Carey said the actions of Carnival and possibly other cruise lines, shipping corporations and private vessels, undermine the marine conservation efforts the BNT has undertaken.
“The ocean is our number one asset sustaining so much of our very way of life. The Bahamas allows the cruise industry to use our oceans to support their business. We as a nation are working so hard to protect our marine environment, and we have every right to hold Carnival Cruise Lines accountable for protecting what is also a key asset to their own success,” Carey said.
The BNT Executive Director also noted that an important reality that has emerged from this public legal case, is that as a nation, The Bahamas has not invested in sufficient capacity to properly monitor this industry.
“It is fairly obvious that if this issue had not been regulated in the US and brought before the US courts, this flagrant abuse of our oceans would still be undetected. These fines are a serious indictment on their actions, but the real question is, what else is happening out there – could this actually be just the tip of the iceberg,” Carey asked.
“As such, it is imperative that while we are committed to legislative and policy reforms to address this issue, we also need to increase our national capacity to police and monitor our oceans. We cannot continue to depend on others to be the watchdog protecting our waters for us.
“Finally, we note with emphasis, that this second fine is a penalty for a violation of Carnival’s probation, having already been found guilty of serious environmental infractions. This leads us to wonder whether these penalties are in fact a sufficient deterrent.”