Cruise ships in Bahamas accused of damaging environment

Government dive teams have been dispatched to investigate damage to marine life and the seabed from ships sheltering in Bahamian waters near the Berry Islands.

An initial dive shows ‘significant damage’ to the marine environment allegedly caused by ship anchors.

A comprehensive assessment is being put together to determine the extent of the damage and quantify the value of the damage and the potential remediation costs. Steps are also being taken, Government ministers said, to determine gaps that existed in standard operating procedures, policies or legislation that allowed this situation to occur, and engage those responsible so that they take corrective actions, according to The Tribune.

A joint statement from Minister of Agriculture, Michael Pintard, and Minister of the Environment, Romauld Ferreira, stresses that all vessels sheltering in Bahamian waters are “obliged to anchor, operate and navigate in a manner in all respects safe and in all respects compliant with all local laws and regulations, including safety and environmental regulations.

“It is well established that while in Bahamian waters, sheltering ships must at all times anchor safely to protect life and the environment. This requires, by international safe practice: sufficient depth of water to provide a generous margin for vessel safety; sufficient distance between each vessel’s anchorage to assure that the ships cannot interfere with each other; sufficient length of anchor chain along the sea bottom to assure a proper angle of holding force to keep the ship safely in place —this has some localised effect on the seabed, but is not permitted to impact essential marine resources; and sufficient distance from any designated essential marine resource.”

The statement continues: “The intergovernmental team has undertaken to do the following urgently: complete the comprehensive assessment to determine the extent of the damage to our marine environment; quantify the value of the damage and the potential remediation costs; quantify potential loss of revenue to stakeholders who relied on the environmental assets damaged or totally lost; determine gaps that existed in standard operating procedures, policies and or legislation that permitted this occurrence or impacts our response in the aftermath of it (and) engage those responsible so that they would, in the shortest possible time, take corrective actions.”

The statement did not specify which ship or ships are responsible for the damage. Yesterday MIN reported on fines for anchor damage in Hawaii.

Last year, according to The Tribune, Carnival Corporation came under fire when a court mandated report which covers April 2017 to April 2018, revealed how Carnival illegally dumped hundreds of thousands of treated sewage in Bahamian waters along with more than 8,000 gallons of food waste.

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