FIRST, the good news. A deal is on the table from Carnival to settle with prosecutors after one of its ships dumped plastic and food waste in Bahamas waters last year. The company will pay $20m in fines.
Now, the bad news. We’re not getting any of it.
There’s something surreal about a cruise ship committing an offence in Bahamian waters – in this case violation of the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) – but paying the US government as a result.
It comes about because of an earlier case of dumping waste into the ocean and, worse still, covering it up. Carnival were ordered to pay a $40m fine for that and serve a five-year probation. The 2018 dumping breaches that probation.
The US fills its coffers. Our pockets remain empty.
Even if we wanted to take Carnival to court for damage to Bahamian waters, we couldn’t. We don’t have the laws to protect our waters in that way.
Such laws were promised on the campaign trail by the FNM. An Environmental Protection Act, they said. As it is, such promises have turned out to be as empty as our pockets.
The Attorney General has suggested such laws could come by the end of the year, possibly even by the end of the summer, as he tries to ensure that the stable door is bolted even as the horse gallops off into the distance.
More to the point, the longer we go without such laws in place, the longer offenders can get away with damaging our environment without consequence.
Do we suppose these are the only incidents of dumping? Are we to think that Carnival is the only company to do this? Or that there has been absolutely no other dumping that has failed to be reported.
We previously reported on how one bridge officer – on Carnival Conquest – offered to cover up the illegal dumping. He offered to cover up dumping by changing the time and location of the discharge. While his offer was not followed through, how are we to know that others haven’t been falsified?
The goal, of course, is to prevent dumping full stop. But if there’s no penalty to be paid by companies even if they do, how are we to prevent it?
Instead, we look at the US settlement with envy, thinking to ourselves what might have been – if only we’d got on with putting laws on the books. Too slow, too slow by far.
Off on the wrong foot
Welcome to the job, Mr Smith!
CA Smith has started on the wrong foot as he prepares to be the country’s next Governor General after Dame Marguerite Pindling, apologising yesterday for a breach of protocol in letting slip news of his appointment.
He should have waited, of course, and let the Queen make the announcement – but instead told staff at a farewell luncheon, an event that was being recorded.
In the recording, he talks about being annoyed about the saying that if you want to keep a secret from Bahamians, just put it in a book, going on to say “Obviously, this secret was not put in a book because if it was none of you would have known about it”.
He says his words were in “a private discussion that was never intended to be made public”. Intent or not, Mr Smith, we do hope you’re sorry for your breach of protocol – and not just that you got caught on tape.
So we move to a new era for the Governor General’s office with a stumble. Might we suggest protocol officers have a quiet chat to avoid any further stumbles?