Cruise ship docks threaten coral reefs
What happens when you ignore your own environmental surveys in the interest of installing a cruise ship dock to bring in more tourists? Unfortunately Bimini in the Bahamas is in the process of finding out.
The Bahamian government has allowed Resorts World Bimini to dredge the coral reefs and install a new dock so a fast shuttle from Florida can bring in day-trip passengers. The boat can hold up to 1500 passengers at a time, nearly doubling the population of the tiny island. In the process, the dredging and the boat propellers are covering the coral reefs with silt, killing them. The very attraction that drew people to Bimini in the first place is being killed.
While this situation is sad, Bimini isn’t the only place faced with this dilemma. Cruise ships bring huge numbers of passengers to island, injecting cash into the island economy. Grand Cayman, already a destination for as many as five cruise ships a day, is moving forward with an environmental impact study to install a new, larger cruise ship dock.
The plot from my first novel, Cayman Cowboys (2005, 2013) touched on exactly this issue. A greedy developer co-opted several key officials from the Cayman government to build a cruise ship dock at the expense of the environment. The book is set at the very real Sunset House (follow Sunset House on Facebook), long-considered the pre-eminent dive resort on an island world famous for its coral reefs and scuba diving and a number of scenes take place at My Bar…world famous for after-dive activities. When I wrote the book, I really thought the people of Grand Cayman would never allow something like that to happen there. Now, unfortunately, I’m not so sure.
The environmental impact study in Bimini said installing the dock was a bad idea. The Bahamian government ignored its own study and allowed the dredging and construction to go forward. I have my fingers crossed that the government of Grand Cayman won’t make the same mistake there. My friends Neal Watson (Bahamas) and Keith Sahm (Grand Cayman) are doing what they can to make sure this doesn’t happen.
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