Environmentalists to Disney: let’s find win-win alternative to Lighthouse Point

Environmentalists to Disney: let’s find win-win alternative to Lighthouse Point
Lighthouse Point, Eleuthera. (FILE PHOTO)

Disney maintains it will only move forward with project if environmentally sustainable

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Environmentalists have again called on Disney Cruise Lines to select an alternative site for its development and cruise port and work with local stakeholders to find a “win-win” situation that would see the developers move the project from Lighthouse Beach in South Eleuthera.

The environmental groups have opposed the development and urged for the government and Disney to secure the site and come up with more sustainable economic opportunities for the communities in South Eleuthera.

The environmental groups, which include, the Waterkeeper Alliance, Waterkeepers Bahamas, Save The Bays, the Bahamas Reef Environment Education Foundation, EARTHCARE, and reEarth, launched a digital campaign against the project.

The digital campaign on www.stopdisney.comcalls on supporters to “take action” and sign a petition, which has gained more than 30,000 signatories.

In a joint statement, yesterday the group said, “People in The Bahamas, the United States, and across the world, treasure Lighthouse Point and are worried about the pressures already facing coral reefs and our oceans.

“Some ‘Last Chance for Lighthouse Point’ campaign supporters love Disney and are puzzled by why Disney would pick a place like Lighthouse Point to build a port that would tarnish and degrade the area.

“The launch of the campaign has received media attention from all major Bahamian news outlets.

“For the first time, Disney has felt compelled to respond publicly to the Bahamian environmental groups, but Disney still does not address the fundamental issues set out in the campaign’s website.

Amid renewed calls to abandon the project, Disney said this month that it has always said it will only move forward with the project at Lighthouse Point, “if we can do so in an environmentally responsible manner”.

The company said that message has been shared directly with environmentalists as its own team of animal and conservation experts work closely with a qualified team of Bahamians and an experienced international firm to develop a comprehensive EIA and environmental management plan — one that aligns with “our company’s deep and longstanding commitment to the environment”.

Disney also said it remains committed to developing less than 20 percent of the property, employing sustainable building practice, including an open-trestle pier that eliminates the need to dredge a ship channel; establishing environmental monitoring programs during construction and operation; and donating more than 190 acres of the privately-owned land to the government for conservation and public use.

Yesterday, ReEarth Executive Director Sam Duncombe said the support from the public has been amazing to see.

She said Disney must stop talking about it environmental policies and begin to listen to “all of our voices and do the right thing”.

Phoebe Shaw, the director of the ‘Last Chance for Lighthouse Point’ campaign said, the world will be watching closely.

She stressed that it is not too late for the developers to change course with its cruise port plans and find an alternative site.

“At the same time, the groups are eager to see Disney stay at Lighthouse Point and cooperate with local groups on a sustainable development alternative,” Shaw said.

“Disney has a chance to set a new precedent for sustainable development and the protection of global oceans.”

Fort Lauderdale-based spearfishing company Headhunter has joined the calls for Disney to find an alternative site.

Headhunter President Brad Thornbrough said he understands how important the project could be for to The Bahamas, but suggested that there are better options and referenced MSC Cruises’ Ocean Cay project as a good example.

In all my travels around the world to tropical countries, I can honestly say that this spit of land is one of, if not the most, breathtaking piece of unspoiled nature that I have ever seen.

 “On top of that, it boasts pristine reefs and is a rich part of the local history.

“Because of the allure of this area, I have been following this development…”

He called on the public, domestic and international, to sign the petition.