June 07, 2019
The Bahamas National Trust joins many other Bahamians and Bahamian NGOs in expressing concern and outrage at the continued problem of cruise ship dumping in our waters.
“The Bahamas is recognized globally for its efforts to protect the marine environment. We have created one of the most impressive national park systems in our region, including the oldest land and Sea Park in the world, and further the Bahamian Government has committed to protecting 20 percent of our nearshore marine environment by 2020.
The actions of Carnival and possibly other cruise line, shipping corporations, and private vessels undermine the marine conservation efforts we have undertaken.” said Eric Carey, BNT Executive Director.
“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.”
The BNT notes the comments on this issue by key government officials, including the Minsters of Tourism and Aviation, The Attorney General and the Minister of Transport.
We would now like to see a clear strategy that take us towards robust policies and appropriate legislation to address this issue.
The BNT notes the Attorney General’s commitment to there being an environmental law by the end of the summer, enabling The Bahamas to go after polluters. The Trust welcomes this effort and is committed to lending its assistance and expertise if desired.
As a sovereign nation The Bahamas needs to be able to levy fines for dumping activity in our waters, as the result 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.
An important reality that has emerged from this public legal case, is that as a nation, we have not invested in sufficient capacity to properly monitor this industry.
This case and its associated findings, reveal that this industry has been dumping in our waters over an extended period of time. It is fairly obvious that if this the 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?
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.