Petition for Disney to find alternative site receives over 74,000 signatories
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — As environmentalists continue to urge Disney Cruise Lines to find an alternative site for its cruise port development in South Eleuthera, the ‘Stop Disney – Last Chance for Lighthouse Point’ campaign parked a mobile billboard at Disney’s D23 event in California over the weekend.
The billboard featured an aerial photo of the location of Disney’s project at Lighthouse Point, with bold red font that read: www.StopDisney.com.
In bold, black font above the picturesque location read: Last chance for Lighthouse Point.
An online petition launched by campaign organizers and environmentalists six weeks ago has garnered over 74,000 signatories
Environmentalists and others opposed to the project have argued that Lighthouse Point as a unique, untouched natural site cannot survive the development of cruise port.
The government signed a heads of agreement with Disney Cruise Lines in March for the development of Lighthouse Point.
Stopdisney.com has called on the developer to forego the development on the approved location and find an alternative site to “preserve the point and provide greater benefits to local communities in South Eleuthera.”
During the D23 event, which saw thousands attend, Disney Parks, Experiences and Products Chairman Bob Chapek and Walt Disney Imagineer Joe Rhode announced that the Lighthouse Point project will celebrate the culture and spirit of The Bahamas.
As part of the event, the Disney released two conceptual renderings of the project.
The company has committed to developing less than 20 percent of the property; employ sustainable building practices, including an open-trestle pier that eliminates the need to dredge a ship channel; establish environmental monitoring programs during construction and operations; and donate more than 190 acres of the privately-owned land to the government.
Disney has said it will not move forward with the project unless an environmental impact assessment demonstrates the project will be environmentally sustainable.
In a statement yesterday, the StopDisney campaign said while the D23 event brings together fans from across the country to celebrate the Disney, which has committed to “ensuring a world where wildlife thrives and nature is treasured and protected”, the project for Lighthouse Point contradicts that promise.
“Many supporters of the Stop Disney Last Chance campaign have indicated that they are long-standing Disney fans, but they have been shocked to learn that Disney Cruise Lines is planning to develop a cruise port and pier in such a special place surrounded by seas containing endangered coral reefs and rich marine life,” read the statement.
“Bahamian environmental groups remain eager to cooperate with Disney on a win-win alternative.”
Last Chance for Lighthouse Point Executive Director Phoebe Shaw said Disney has an opportunity to set a new precedent for environmental protection and sustainable development.
She said, “Our oceans are already facing mounting threats, and we need to do better to preserve the marine resources we have left. Lighthouse Point presents an opportunity for Disney to further their own environmental legacy and set a new standard by pursuing a more sustainable alternative for Lighthouse Point and South Eleuthera.”
Bahamas Reef Environment Educational Foundation Executive Director Casuarina Mckinney-Lambert said the area was proposed for protected status because of endangered coral reefs and critically important habitats for valuable marine species in the area.
“The construction and operation of a cruise ship port with a half-mile-long pier would undoubtedly have negative impacts on the marine environment,” she said. “If Disney wants to continue their environmental legacy, they need to seriously reconsider more sustainable development for Lighthouse Point.”
Save the Bays Executive Director Joe Darville said while stakeholders do not want to see Disney leave, “we are eager to see Disney engage with Bahamian groups to implement a more environmentally and economically sustainable alternative at Lighthouse Point”.
Waterkeeper Alliance Executive Director Marc Yaggi called on the developer to maintain the same policies and values regardless of location.
“It is doubtful that Disney would attempt to implement a development of this scale at such a special natural place in The United States,” Yaggi said. “Disney must uphold the highest international standards at Lighthouse Point. The Waterkeeper Alliance with our Bahamian partner groups stand ready to meet with Disney to discuss a win-win alternative.”