By Leandra Rolle
THE Bahamas National Trust yesterday criticised Norwegian Cruise Lines for violating the country’s environmental laws after it was revealed the vessel had dumped waste into Bahamian waters.
“The news of another incident of dumping by a cruise line is a matter of great concern to the Bahamas National Trust (BNT),” BNT said in a press statement.
“The report that Norwegian Cruise Lines has been involved in an incident of dumping is a reminder of the importance of BNT’s mission.”
Declaring that “all environmental offenders should be held accountable”, the non-governmental organisation said it remains committed to preserving the country’s natural marine resources.
“The cruise line industry must get the message that poor practices that damage our environment cannot be tolerated,” said BNT Executive Director Eric Carey.
“It is unacceptable to carry out dumping in our waters – and that message needs to be hammered home. There is a saying that what you allow is what will continue – if we allow one incident, we can only expect such cases to continue.”
“We must draw a line and make clear that things must change. At the BNT, we remain committed to our goal of holding those who commit such offences accountable.”
This is not the first time a well-known cruise line was caught polluting in the Bahamian waters.
In fact, just last month, The Tribune reported that Carnival Cruise Line had been caught polluting Bahamian waters yet again in 2019 after being found to have committed infractions in 2017.
Insisting the BNT “has not been selective in its criticism”, officials said they will continue to publicly speak out against any negative practices that are harmful to the Bahamian environment.
“The only side we are on is that of the Bahamian environment, and we will always be on that side,” Mr Carey added.
“Offenders should be held to account, and the laws will hopefully discourage others from following suit.
“New laws have just been introduced to help to clamp down on environmental offences – and just as all are equal in the eyes of the court, so too do we regard all equally who might have broken those laws.”
However, officials have previously said that the government will be clamping down on cruise ships operating in Bahamian waters. Last year, the government passed a compendium of environmental bills, seeking to address environmental issues in the country.
“Let me make one thing clear and in doing so emphatically state that we will defend our environmental sovereignty,” Transport Minister Renward Wells told the House of Assembly on Wednesday.
“Those who have breached our environmental laws will be made to account. The pristine lands and waters of The Bahamas (are) the inheritance of our people. It belongs to all Bahamians, to all of you and to future generations of our beautiful nation.”
A spokesperson from Bahamas Maritime Authority said by next week, the government will be in a better position to report on the specifics of Norwegian’s waste dumping.
“It is a part of BNT’s mandate to protect and preserve the environment of The Bahamas,” BNT President Geoff Andrews noted.
“This mandate demands that we speak out against environmental offenders when warranted. However, we are not biased in holding companies to task and are happy to work with companies and businesses that respect the environment and are good environmental citizens.”