Carnival Unaware Of Its Ships Damaging Seabed


Tribune Chief Reporter


A MAJOR cruise line has said it is unaware of any issues with its ships related to allegations of seabed and marine life damage caused by vessels sheltering in Bahamian waters near the Berry Islands.

In a statement to The Tribune yesterday, Roger Frizzell, Carnival’s senior vice president & chief communications officer, said while the corporation was not aware of issues in this regard, the cruise line is committed to the protection of ecological habitats.

“We are not aware of any such issue with our ships. We file daily ship plans with the Bahamas Maritime Authority (BMA) and closely follow our stated plans,” Mr Frizzell said. “We do not use restricted areas.

“Our top priorities are compliance, environmental protection and the health, safety and welfare of our guests and crew members, along with the destinations we visit. We are committed to working with Bahamian officials to further the protection of ecological habitats and will continue to cooperate fully in this effort.”

Carnival said it has 10 ships in the area, but none of its vessels are in the Berry Islands’ waters.

The government has not named any cruise line as responsible for the seabed damage. However, a marine vessel tracking website, marinetraffic.com currently shows several vessels anchored near Great Harbour Cay.

Several Celebrity ships are positioned nearest to that cay, while several other Carnival ships are nearby, according to that website.

Royal Caribbean Cruise Line, parent company of Celebrity Cruises, also insisted its ships were in compliance.

In a statement to The Tribune last night, the company said: “Royal Caribbean Group has a strong commitment to environmental stewardship built on a culture of adherence to strict company policies, practices and regulations and a focus on continuous improvement. We are aware that unconfirmed claims have been made related to possible sea floor damage involving vessel activity in the vicinity of the Berry Islands in The Bahamas.

“We have conducted a complete review of the documentation for vessels sheltering in the waters of The Bahamas as well as our associated policies to reaffirm that we are in compliance and also to identify opportunities for further enhancements. We have communicated with our marine operations teams to reinforce the importance of the safety and environmental requirements needed to operate our vessels in Bahamian waters.

“As a vested Bahamas tourism partner, we share and understand concerns regarding any potential environmental impact to the country’s marine resources and will cooperate fully with authorities in order to effectively assess the situation and develop further preventative action as necessary.”

Damage to marine life and the seabed was brought to light on Sunday when the government released a statement confirming an investigation into the situation was underway.

According to a joint statement from Minister of Agriculture Michael Pintard and Minister of the Environment Romauld Ferreira on Sunday, an initial dive, while limited in scope, showed significant damage to the marine environment allegedly caused by ship anchors.

The statement said a team was urgently putting together a comprehensive assessment to determine the extent of the damage and quantify the value of the damage and the potential remediation costs. Steps are also being taken, the ministers said, to determine gaps that existed in standard operating procedures, policies or legislation that allowed this situation to occur and engage those responsible so that they take corrective actions.

The statement noted that over the last few days the ministries responsible for marine resources and the environment were made aware of possible damage to the marine environment due to vessels sheltering in Bahamian territory.

“The alarming claims prompted various government ministries and agencies to meet, discuss and determine the accuracy of the claims and to formulate an emergency plan of action in the event such claims were accurate,” the ministers said.

Following this revelation, local environmental watchdogs said they want the government’s investigation into the alleged damage by cruise ships to be “quick” and “public”.

Groups reEarth and Save the Bays made the appeal on Monday.

Sam Duncombe, speaking on behalf of the groups, said even with the cruise ship industry closed, the Bahamian people and marine environment continue to suffer.

In a statement Monday she said: “Even with the cruise industry shut down, the environment of the Bahamas is being degraded and its people harmed. We are now part of a global network of citizen groups in countries worldwide demanding an end to ‘business as usual’. In the Bahamas, we are calling for an environmental impact assessment so we can make smart decisions about how to restart the industry in the coming years.

“We support the pledge last week of Prime Minister Minnis to ‘build back better’ after Dorian and hopefully now after COVID, but we must not do so blindly. Let’s take six months, employ the best local and international experts, share initial findings, and consult with the public. Then the government can chart a course towards an economic recovery that it is sustainable,” she added.

In her statement, Ms Duncombe said local fishermen describe the damage as equivalent to a “bulldozer” driving across the ocean floor.

According to Ms Duncombe, on September 4, Eric Carey, executive director of the Bahamas National Trust, received a voice note from fishermen in the Berry Islands reporting significant damage to the seafloor from cruise ships’ massive anchors and chains dragging across the seabed.

Two miles west of Little Stirrup renamed Coco Cay, a private cruise port operated by Royal Caribbean, there are 15-18 cruise ships anchored in Bahamian waters spaced two to three miles apart, the fishermen have said, adding the anchors are dragging along the seafloor and the ships have to be repositioned, she said.


ThisIsOurs 1 month, 2 weeks ago

of course not. Why would they? They weren't aware that they were dumping in our waters either. Something about their staff not being trained to read maps. Sea floor? Who knew it was there when we dropped anchor?


ThisIsOurs 1 month, 2 weeks ago

This is the problem. Reacting again. Someone at environment noting a dozen or more ships UNUSUALLY anchored in a single location for months should have said we need systems in place to ensure no illegal dumping and no damage to the environment. Did they do that? Nope. they didn't even know. The fishermen told them about it.


Baha10 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Actually cruisemapper.com told the World precisely where these Cruise Ships were from mid-March and have been to this very day ... anchoring all over The Bahamas, not just at Gingerbread Ground where a significant number our clustered at present. What is interesting is that since the Fisherman’s Voice Recordings first broke, many of the Cruise Ships in other parts of our waters have scampered ... imagine that ... someone in Govt. needs to urgently secure the historical data of cruisemapper.com before it mysteriously disappears like medical records in this Country.


Baha10 1 month, 2 weeks ago

It is also disconcerting that Carnival “apparently” does not know where no less than 13 (not 10) of its biggest Cruise Ships are located with the statement “... none of its vessels are in the Berry Islands waters” when the whole World can clearly see they are through “independent” tracking Websites, not to mention first hand visual inspection ... talk about playing us for fools ... all Carnival access to our Waters and Ports should be immediately revoked until the quantum of damages is assessed and payment received.


proudloudandfnm 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Just order them to have mooring buoys installed! Muddos man! We have companies in Freeport tha can do it overnight. Sheesh...


Proguing 1 month, 2 weeks ago

I guess they did not want to pay for it, there is also plenty space in the port of Nassau


Economist 1 month, 2 weeks ago

That's correct.

Now the Bahamians get very little out of the cruise passenger dollars. The cruise line use our countey to make them hundreds of millions a year and leave us with their polution.

We would be much better off spending money and bringing more air arrivals.


truetruebahamian 1 month, 2 weeks ago

The reports say that the ships are anchored between Bimini and the Berry Islands. That covers the whole of Mackey Shoal and beyond. A huge amount of territorial water and sea bed .


tribanon 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Minnis and D'Aguilar expressly approved all of these cruise ships sheltering and anchoring in our territorial waters without any consideration whatsoever of the serious environmental implications of doing so. And no doubt by now Minnis has instructed Carl Bethel to tell Pintard and Ferriera to shut up or else.


John 1 month, 2 weeks ago

This is not new news. The damage was known for decades about anchor hitches and dragging. And even keel dragging. That’s why it is important to limit and control the access of ships to some parts of the seabed.


Economist 1 month, 2 weeks ago

We should ban the likes of Carnival and Royal Caribbean and their cheap sister companies.

The cruise lines cause more environmental damage than they contibute to our economy. They have captive audiances on their environmentally destroyed islands and hire a few Bahamian life guards and maintance workers which are low paying jobs.

When they come to Nassau they tell passengers where to shop and which tours (ones where they have a special fee structure) to take.

Bahamians get very little. It is not like the 1960's or early 1970's where the passenger got off and explored, went to Bahamian owned resturants and bought tours directly from the tour operator.

Get rid of these leaches.


Proguing 1 month, 2 weeks ago

and went to Bahamian clubs, with Bahamian artists. This is unfortunately all dead now.


Proguing 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Unfortunately this has all the marks of an ecological disaster, especially with the hurricane that passed by last month


Amused 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Nothing will happen like always just a bunch of talk. Funny how they dumped in our waters and the US fined them and yet we have yet to do the same and get much needed monies into the coffers


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