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Tougher Marine Laws In Pipeline

Renward Wells

Renward Wells

By KHRISNA RUSSELL

Deputy Chief Reporter

krussell@tribunemedia.net

THE Minnis administration finds Carnival Cruise Lines’ unlawful dumping of sewage and food waste in Bahamian waters “disturbing”, Transport and Local Government Minister Renward Wells said yesterday, adding the matter is to be comprehensively investigated and appropriate measures taken.

According to the minister, direct communication has been made with the cruise line which has pledged complete transparency and cooperation as a probe is undertaken.

Reporters also asked Attorney General Carl Bethel if there were plans to strengthen the country’s environmental laws in light of the Carnival revelations, to which Mr Bethel said an “aggressive” package of environmental laws is in the works.

This came as the Bahamas National Trust yesterday pointed to Carnival’s guilty plea in 2016 to serious pollution charges and the violation of its probation conditions.

In light of this, the BNT said it was very concerned about these “destructive and illegal practises,” urging the government to do what was necessary to discourage future occurrences.

Carnival ships dumped hundreds of thousands of gallons of treated sewage and more than 8,000 gallons of food waste in 2017, according to a US court-mandated report.

In so doing, the corporation violated the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL), which specifies how food waste and sewage must be disposed.

In a statement yesterday ahead of the House of Assembly’s morning session, Mr Wells said the government was carefully reviewing information regarding Carnival Cruise Lines’ vessels within and around the coastal waters of this country over the course of 2017.

“The government of the Bahamas finds these allegations most disturbing and takes the matter seriously and as such has engaged all relevant government ministries and departments to facilitate a comprehensive review and to review and to provide an appropriate response commensurate to the actions,” the minister said.

“Whilst the ships named are not Bahamas flagged, the allegations if founded would be considered serious violations of the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships 1973/1978 to which the Bahamas is party. As the port and coastal state in which the violations may have occurred, the Bahamas will investigate and take measures as appropriate.”

The statement continued: “The government has asked the Port Department and the Bahamas Maritime Authority to engage with Carnival and other relevant parties to conduct the investigation into these allegations.

“Contact has already been made with Carnival, who is cooperating fully with the Bahamas and have pledged full transparency in the investigation into the circumstances of this matter.

“Having regards to the US courts ordered five-year environmental compliance plan of Carnival, the BMA has requested from Carnival the US Court auditors ECP 2018 report. The government has been reassured of a comprehensive investigation by the BMA in accordance with international standards.

“Any recommendations arising from the investigation will be implemented to ensure that such incidents do not recur.”

Yesterday, Mr Bethel also weighed in on the controversy, saying stronger environmental laws are being worked on.

“. . .The Minister of Environment Romi Ferreira has been aggressively pressuring my drafting officers to work on an Environmental Protection Act for several months, and we are engaged in that process with his ministry and the Bahamian people can rest assured that we hope that before the end of this year, and hopefully before end of the summer, we will have a comprehensive series of environmental protection laws to further enhance the ability of this country not only to in a sense manage its own environment in an environmentally friendly way, but also properly sanction those who would abuse the privileges that they enjoy to come, for example, and sail in our waters,” Mr Bethel said.

“There are also instances of dumping habits that contribute to the pollution and plastic pollution in our oceans and these practices by guests in our country must be eradicated forthwith. Forthwith. 

“And so yes, the Bahamian people can rest assured that we will have [a] very aggressive suite of environmental protection laws that will give the minister all necessary powers to sanction and to prevent, and where he can’t prevent, to obtain recompense of those who violate and destroy or damage our environment.”

When asked how these laws would be enforced, Mr Bethel acknowledged the country’s geographical makeup would make it difficult.  

“. . .It’s extremely difficult for a country with a population our size and the limitations of geography to police every square inch of our waters. And also remember that there are several major international shipping routes through the Bahamas. And so, it is a difficult job. But all I can say is that we will do what we have to do to arm the necessary government agencies with the lawful authority to deal with any breaches either as they occur, before any damage is inflicted, or after they occur.”

Asked if there are current laws that can be used in this situation, Mr Bethel said: “We are looking at all of the powers - and there are certainly certain rights under the international convention…. and I have my officers exploring everything as we speak.” 

In the face of backlash over the situation, Tourism and Aviation Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar told The Nassau Guardian on Monday new legislation may be necessary to prevent long-term environmental damage by cruise lines.

This suggests the country does not have the needed frame work in place to force compliance with international regulations.

Comments

DDK 1 month ago

This most serious issue is tantamount to having unsecured and uninsured crown jewels. Trust the Ministers and Government leaders responsible will actually follow through on this one, and not just for a season. I reckon they are ALL responsible, as are The People to permanently keep the heat on.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 1 month ago

Are you for real? This current corrupt bunch will do nothing of any substance, absolutely nothing. What good are more laws when none of our laws are ever enforced? This current corrupt bunch, like the previous corrupt bunch, thrive on lawlessness for their own self-gain.

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screwedbahamian 1 month ago

Countries that cannot protect its citizens in every way necessary, be able to feed its people, provide its younger generation with a future and afford its citizens an acceptable standard of life should not be INDEPENDENT, If the large corporations in the Ship cruise Industry are having there large passengers ships dumping very large amounts of human waste and other food waste and poisons in our waters and getting away with it what about the hundreds of private boats that anchor in our harbours and around Islands. We cannot get upset when we have to hear disrespectable expressions of " Shit hole countries"

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bogart 1 month ago

?.......laws in da pipeline......fer pollution......RIGHT NOW ...RIGHT NOW.....BUILDING CONTROL EXISTS....ON LAND.......FER DECADES........DA ECHELONS....ELITES...COHORTS...CRONIES.........BEEN HAVING DERE HOUSEKEEPERS...GARDINERS...HANDYMAN......LIVING IN ILLEGALLY SHANTYTOWNS......GLARINGLY WELL KNOWN.....to majority of da nation whi has to get BUILDING PERMITS....OCCUCANCY CERTIFICATES....TO GET LEGAL WIRING......PROPER CESSPITS ...WID CERTIFIED CASMENT CONCRETE ....TO GET SOLIDS AN LIQUID .....AN GETS SEWAGE TRUCKS PUMP IT......BUT....Shantytowns jus hav outside latrine...sewage in soil...disposal....even cases where it is done in common grocery bags........AN DESE....POLLUTING WATER SUPPLY Bahamian having to get All legal permits but has well water ....likely contaminated ....some protection to those who use chlorinators an chlorine filters at their expense caused by illegal shantytowns.....right here on land....

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Giordano 1 month ago

I don't like to hear the disrespectable expression : "Shit Hole Country" ,we are saturated with people in directional position with BS-degree (Bachelor Science-degree),it supposed to be like described above but in fact is Bull S#h#t-degree. One sees them everywhere in public office including the big belly ones from the RBPF just to mention one of so many. They don't know what they are doing and don't acknowledge "The Pledge to the Country" as ONE,superior to,any other pledge,the one who mandate them to STOP ✋ the wrongdoing and continue what is lawful .

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TalRussell 1 month ago

Yes, yes has be comrade "FREE" porters by now would have lost all their common sense inventory intelligence marbles to trust anything more promised by any of the Imperial red shirts cabinet's guard - when they don't even possess balls to come right out to inform "FREE porters that the whole OBAN deal was a farce from get go "fake" affixing signatory and done with prior knowledge prime minister who went on misrepresent all things OBAN on floor Peoples Honourable House of Assembly, yes,no?
Time 35 elected Imperial red shirts MP's demonstrate some respect fess up to 15,936 grand Bahamalanders who were tricked by deceit into voting red because every member Imperial red shirts guard are pretending that it is 'fake' news suggest that internally behind the much policeman's guarded walls PMO - they had done 'unofficially' deemed OBAN a scrapped deal, yes, no... and, not a single one out the 35 red shirts MP will stand up to declare OBAN a scrapped deal, yes, no....... "FREE porters need call their red shirts MP's and political appoints out on intentional repeating PMO's OBAN lies - before even be willing open they ears and mind's anything Disney, yes, no.......... OBAN is what it is - a "missing" for one-year now documents mess, yes, no?

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Sickened 1 month ago

I want The Bahamas to be that country that people don't mess with. Like how people react when you talk about breaking the laws in Singapore. All we need is air tight laws and hand out one big ass fine, and no-one will think twice about dumping anything EVER in our waters again. Can we please be that country? At least for a while??

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Sickened 1 month ago

Apparently in the U.S. if you overflow your gas tank when filling up your boat, the gas station must report it and the Coast Guard comes and does an inspection BEFORE you are allowed to pull off.

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Chucky 1 month ago

We need new laws to protect our waters.

How else will we keep them clean, especially important for next time we sell off a chunk of land in our protected marine parks , i.e. Bell Island to the Aga Khan

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ThisIsOurs 1 month ago

Who knew what & when? When was cabinet first notified of this court case?

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ashley14 1 month ago

A Navy man told me they are making a example out of Carnival. He said, this is a normal practice, the Navy ships do this all of the time. I personally don’t know.

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Godson 1 month ago

On my part, Carnival Cruise Line would have been suspended from Bahamian waters for one week minimum. Our people needs to understand and come to accept the fact that acquisition of money is not the 'All-in-All'.

But does this present government administration possess the political will, or rather, the moral fortitude to lead by such example???

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