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No More Private Islands

EDITOR, The Tribune.

It is simply shocking that the government would even consider allowing Carnival Cruise Lines to take possession of, and ban everyone but its passengers from visiting yet another one of our beautiful islands. The practice of cruise companies establishing “private islands” is an abomination on every level - environmental, economic, ethical – and should never have been allowed to take place in the first place.

There are already six such islands around the Bahamas, once beautiful, secluded environmental sanctuaries ruined by huge plastic slides and cheap, gaudy buildings; trampled by thousands of feet on a weekly basis; the precious wildlife turned into entertainment for cruise ship guests or killed off by pollution from the ships.

Carnival Cruises already uses Little San Salvador, which was renamed Half Moon Cay as apparently, the original and historically significant name wasn’t good enough for cruise guests. Now, they want another private port destination at Grand Bahama’s pristine East End, home to ecologically significant marshlands, mangroves, reef systems and marine life.

Environmentalists say East End one of the most fragile and important ecological areas in The Bahamas. And according to international experts, the threats involved are very real. During every cruise, enormous amounts of untreated human waste, chlorinated water from pools, toilets and spas, waste from onboard medical facilities, are dumped into our waters. This is apparently perfectly legal as long as the ship is three miles from land. But this kills fish and other marine life in huge amounts and also suffocates reef systems by lowering the level of oxygen in the sea.

Cruise ships are also responsible for significant air pollution from the dirty fuel they burn, which can lead to serious health problems. Even while at dock, cruise ships run their diesel engines to provide electrical power to passengers and crew. According to the American EPA, every day an average cruise ship emits more toxic gas than 13 million cars and more soot than 1 million cars. Is this really good for the Bahamas? What will this mean for East End in the long run?

But Carnival has refused to even discuss environmentalists’ concerns. According to news reports, a spokesperson said: “There is no finalised deal at this time. If/when a deal is finalised, we’d be happy to discuss specifics of the project.”

No discussion about environmental safety until AFTER the deal is done? This is typically smug response from one of these cruise companies, which often adopt the attitude that we need them more than they need us.

But is this really the case? While they are putting our precious environment at risk, the cruise companies are also sucking the money out of our economy. These private islands are staffed by cruise employees, the shops, bars and restaurants all belong to the cruise companies – in other words, all of the money goes in to their pockets and is shipped out of the country. Nothing for Bahamians. They are effectively methods of bypassing the Bahamian population while getting rich off our natural resources.

I urge this FNM government, who promised that it would be the people’s time, to cancel this terrible deal with Carnival. I urge them also to re-examine their policy of cruise ship dumping in our waters, and conduct a close environmental review of the impact on each and every private cruise island in The Bahamas. Minister Romi Ferreira, were he not in office, would be right there among those opposing this deal. It is time for him to step up and fulfil his mandate.

Angrily but sincerely,

ESSY BOOTLE

Nassau,

May 25, 2018.

Comments

realitycheck242 1 year, 3 months ago

Excellent article Ms Bootle ...well written and reserched ..find a way to get more exposure to the information in this article by posting it on social media pages along with Radio station interviews and join the advocates for saving our natural resources

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Porcupine 1 year, 3 months ago

Agreed. Excellent points, all well said. What will it take to bring more people around to this type of responsible thinking? Thanks Essy Boodle.

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sheeprunner12 1 year, 3 months ago

I agree with the letter writer ....... There are many "private islands" owned by Bahamian families ........ Can the Government stop these islands from being sold to foreigners??????

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DDK 1 year, 3 months ago

Government does not have to disallow the sale of private islands to foreigners. Government has to refuse to permit activities on or around these islands that are detrimental to our environment. Full stop. Obviously cruise ships dumping on and around the islands is detrimental to our Bahamas. One would think even our Government should be able to see that.

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OldFort2012 1 year, 3 months ago

Their attitude is not "SMUG". I certainly would not discuss anything with you. Who are you? You are not a party to the transaction.

Your argument is with the "vendor", and that presumably is the Government of The Bahamas. They are the ones getting the money. Because, and this might come as a shock to you, Carnival will be paying with "money". You know, the stuff paying off the debt of the Bahamas?

If you don't want private islands, no problem. Persuade the Government of the Bahamas that the money offered does not compensate for the loss of habitat, pollution, whatever. But don't attack the buyer. He is simply knocking on the door and saying: "Would you like to sell us this for that price?" No one is holding a gun to the Government's head and forcing them, are they?

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Voltaire 1 year, 3 months ago

Yes, actually, the cruise companies do hold a metaphorical gun to the government's head. They are among the most aggressive, mafia style negotiators you will come across, continuously threatening to pull their ships and take them to another destination if they don't get their way. Ask any public servant who has had to interact with them, it is basically an exercise in bully appeasement.

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OldFort2012 1 year, 3 months ago

What utter nonsense, served up for all the morons without a map. The vast majority of cruises are 3 to 5 day cruises. From Miami. Where they gonna get to in 3 days from Miami and back? Obviously whoever cooked up that story got an E in Geography at school.

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Voltaire 1 year, 3 months ago

What you say may be true but that's not the point. Plausible or not these are the tactics used, and geographically-challenged or not, our governments tremble before the wrath of the cruise ship lobby whenever they do threaten. I'm not making this up, I have witnessed it first hand. And would you really be surprised? You think Hubert Minnis or Perry Christie have any idea how long it will take a cruise ship to get to Cuba, or Turks, or St. Thomas? Might as well ask those two gentlemen to build a nuclear reactor from scratch.

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Voltaire 1 year, 3 months ago

Personally I also blame the government, but either way, these islands are a raw deal for the Bahamas.

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OldFort2012 1 year, 3 months ago

We might be Bahamian, but we are not utter morons, surely. The average speed of a cruise ship is 20 knots, say 23mph. If the average trip is 3 days, that means a maximum of 2 days sailing with 1 day ashore. 24hrs X 2 X 23mph / 2 (return) = 552 miles. Theoretical MAXIMUM range. But don't forget sea conditions and extra fuel expenditure, so they would NEVER want to go that far.

Distance of Little San Salvador from Miami? 340 mph. They might be able to go another 100, but that is it. 100 is still WAYYYYYYY inside Bahamian territorial waters.

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Voltaire 1 year, 3 months ago

Throw calculations at me all you want. I tell you I have witnessed Cabinet ministers quaking in their boots before these aggressive, hard talking cruise execs and handing them whatever they demand. The cruise companies always argue that 'You need us more than we need you.' And they always win.

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seamphony 1 year, 3 months ago

Takes a lot of money to run and maintain these islands (see the example ragged island). you can't have your cake and eat it too ms. bootle.

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Voltaire 1 year, 3 months ago

Nonsense. Ragged Island is irrelevant to this discussion. We are not talking about previously inhabited islands, but ecologically sensitive cays that were not developed, costing literally zero to 'run'. These islands are coveted by the cruise companies precisely BECAUSE it allows them to divert revenue from Bahamian ports and into their pockets. Otherwise, they wouldn't bother acquiring the islands. And however much the government gained through the sale, it pales in comparison to the millions lost by Bahamian businesses as a result. This is money taken directly out of their pockets and placed in the pockets of the cruise companies. In return, we get a one time payment, much smaller, which goes to government which is bound to waste at least half of it.

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seamphony 1 year, 3 months ago

I'm sorry guys but Nassau lost its luster years ago!

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sheeprunner12 1 year, 3 months ago

What is the government inventory of "private islands" ........ and their estimated worth - if sold as is , or leased on short term (no longer than 5-10 years at a time)??????

KPT needs to present the value of these Crown Land islands, rocks and cays as part of the national sovereign wealth in the Budget.

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truetruebahamian 1 year, 3 months ago

The ships usually take their passengers to these islands first to drain their finances ao by the time they make their obligatory stop in Nassu they are broke, worn out and often discouraged by the cruise directors who want to keep business on board (unless paid to spot a few businesses on land) and businesses soon learn that these cruise directors are no saints - and are usually out and out crooks.

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concernedcitizen 1 year, 3 months ago

We have tons of Islands , if the cruise lines don,t develop them they will stay dormat for the next thousand years .Its what we have to sell and get tax revenue from ,sun ,sand and sea .The cruise lines want to control the guest experience ..Can you blame them ,,Bay Street is basically dirty and loud where the tourist are harassed .The new straw market is already a loud ,"nasty" smelly place .The family Island I live on the down town is a dump ..some of the foundations , mostly winter resident run organize a clean up and within a month its strewn w beer bottles , Styrofoam food containers and numbers papers again ..I don,t blame the cruise lines ,,it is what it is

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sheeprunner12 1 year, 3 months ago

Soooooooo, we should assist the cruise lines in destroying our tourist industry by giving them more enclaves????? ....... That is bullshit!!!!!!!!

The cruise lines do not any more "private islands" in this country to take advantage of us .........We should make it MANDATORY that every cruise line (each has multiple ships) should make at least ONE stop at every major inhabited island in this country so that the tourist dollar can be shared evenly.

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Dawes 1 year, 3 months ago

They should just say to the cruise ships that if they enter Bahamian water there is a $100 per person fee. However if they stop in Nassau or Freeport for 12 hours or so this is reduced to $15. The cruise ships can then decide whether they want to stop or not.On the private island they should try and make them have the islands near the family islands and force them to hire Bahamians, thereby making sure there is an economic benefit to those islanders.

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sheeprunner12 1 year, 3 months ago

That is what happens in the Pacific ........ every islands gets a piece of the pie ... cruise ships use tenders and go ashore throughout the island chains ........ But they stick us here and we just take it without a whimper.

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