By Leandra Rolle
ENVIRONMENTALISTS have relaunched their campaign against the development of the Disney Cruise Lines port at Lighthouse Point, Eleuthera - after suspending their protests to focus on the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Dorian and the “climate change crisis”.
In a statement on Wednesday, organisers of “Stop Disney - Last Chance for Lighthouse Point” campaign said they have resumed their efforts, which was temporarily put on hold as a result of Hurricane Dorian.
“When Hurricane Dorian struck on September 1, the groups paused the campaign and refocused on relief and recovery efforts… (But) people in The Bahamas and around the world are seeing storms becoming more powerful and frequent and are understanding their connection to a warming ocean,” the statement read.
“(And) young people around the world are demanding that action be taken now to deal with the changing climate and human impact on the environment, particularly in environmentally-sensitive areas.”
In July, the Government and Disney Island Development Ltd signed a Heads of Agreement for the construction of a cruise port and entertainment facility at Lighthouse Point, Eleuthera.
In response to the port development, five Bahamian leading environmental groups and an international organisation banded together and launched a campaign against the project, citing it as a major environmental threat to the area’s natural resources.
“The foot traffic alone, from more than one million visitors a year, will certainly cause irreversible damage to coral reefs and marine life, not to mention the inevitable harm to the area’s natural resources from the construction and operation of the massive pier and port,” the group said in the statement.
And in the wake of Hurricane Dorian, environmentalists noted that protecting Lighthouse Point has become more important than ever. “This must include protecting — not destroying — Marine Protected Areas that are essential to the resiliency of the oceans already under incredible pressures. After Dorian, business as usual is no longer acceptable,” Reearth Executive Director, Sam Duncombe said.
Phoebe Shaw, campaign director of Last Chance for Lighthouse Point, added: “Lighthouse Point should be a beacon of hope for The Bahamas, our oceans, and our future… (So) we challenge Disney to re-evaluate Lighthouse Point in light of Hurricane Dorian and the need to deal with the reality of climate change.”
According to the pro-environmental group, the campaign has gathered over 100,000 supporters so far, all of whom have signed petitions in opposition to Disney’s development.
“The renewed ‘Last Chance’ campaign will work with this growing community of supporters to ensure that the campaign’s even more urgent message reaches out to millions more,” the statement continued.
Bahamas Reef Environment Education Foundation (BREEF), EARTHCARE, ReEarth, Save the Bays, and Waterkeepers Bahamas are all local organisations actively involved in the campaign.