Mac backs off port idea

| 17/06/2015 | 60 Comments
Cayman News Service

Proposed cruise dock for Grand Cayman

(CNS): The opposition leader has said government needs to re-think its position on the George Town cruise berthing facility after the recently published environmental impact assessment (EIA) revealed the extent of the damage and disruption the project would cause to marine life in the George Town harbour and business in the capital. After many years calling for cruise ship piers, McKeeva Bush said Wednesday that the information from the consultants was “disconcerting” but if what they were saying was correct, the project would have serious consequences.

Speaking during a discussion in Finance Committee over a vote on using the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) to finance the EIA on the port project, Bush said it was disappointing to hear the results. After so many years of effort and work on the project, he was loath to “speak in trepidation”, adding that he still believed there was a way to develop the piers without so much dredging and damage. But he said government should look at alternatives if it the project was going to be as negative as is being reported.

The opposition leader, who was a champion of the project during the last administration and had controversially entered into a deal with the Chinese firm CHEC to undertake the cruise port development, said that if government developed the Spotts dock and modernize the tender fleet, it may satisfy the cruise lines for some time.

He said he knew the cruise lines were pushing for the piers and said those moves would not be a cure-all, as he wondered whether the country would ever see the mega ships come. Falling short of withdrawing support for the facility, he said people had pushed to get this done but after what has been announced, it did not appear that government could continue.

MLA Arden McLean raised his objections to government using money from the fund to cover the costs of the EIA, pointing out that it was created to be used to protect the environment but this $2 million report had found that the project would damage a significant part of it. McLean refused to support the allocation of cash from the funds unless government was not going to proceed with the dock. He accused government of “stretching the limits” of what the fund was for by using it for the EIA.

However, the tourism minister remained silent on his position regarding the future of the cruise port proposal. Regardless of the damning revelations in the EIA that predicts a catalogue of problems, dangers, risks and massive environmental damage, Moses Kirkconnell has not yet withdrawn government’s commitment to developing the piers.

The government is also proposing to pay for the consultancy work that is being done at the dump as it digs into the EPF, which has remained largely untouched since it was created in 1997. Currently there is over $52 million in the fund, which comes from airport taxes, but government has now voted to use around $5.1 million of it on the EIA, the landfill project and a new marine enforcement boat for the Department of Environment. Around $1 million will also be spent by the DoE on conservation projects, including cash to preserve the endemic blue iguana and a project to tackle and reduce the growing population of invasive green iguana.

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Category: development, Government Finance, Local News, Politics

Comments (60)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Cruise Dock Solution:
    1. Upgrade George Town Harbour for commercial freight shipping only
    2. Sell The Brac and/or L.C. to Royal Caribbean & Carnival to develop into a Jurassic World type cruise attraction

    Don’t Stop the Car-ni-val

  2. Anonymous says:

    It would be nice if the Cayman Islands could hire a big PR firm and trumpet that the Cayman Islands is a unique place that will NOT destroy it’s reefs, ecology, and marine park history in the name of money and bully businesses. The almost 60mln scuba divers worldwide might appreciate the appeal of such a place that was willing to stand up for itself.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Again, I will reiterate my offer to not build a dock for a fraction of the cost our govt. has spent to not build a dock. Right now…. I am willing to not build a dock for the bargain price of $500,000. That includes not doing or building anything! Frankly this represents a major savings for the people, and I think all should avail their selves of my most generous offer.

  4. Anonymous says:

    6:18 The sad irony of the Pope’s comments is that the greatest problem facing the world is over-population, everything else stems from that. So what does the Catholic church do? Ban contraception.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Read this carefully because it comes from someone in the cruise industry – the mega liners are designed to make the bulk of their income at sea or at resorts like Labadee, which was built with funding from a cruise line. Anyone who thinks they are coming to Grand Cayman is a fool.

    As has already been posted on CNS – if you really want this trade you better be prepared to sell Little Cayman to a cruise line so they can build a resort on it because a dock isn’t enough. Anyway when Cuba opens up it will be academic because that’s were the bulk of our current businees will go.

    • BORN FREE says:

      I wonder what caused his drastic change of mind? Wasn’t he dead set on bringing in the Chinese to do the same thing? He was “all for it before he was against it” ha ha ha! I wonder if it has anything to doing with a cut, & I’m not really talking about a cut in the coral reefs! lol. Oh how the almighty dollar “can talk loud & clear” (or should that be “can make a person talk loud & clear”?)

      • Anonymous says:

        Indeed he was so much for it that the UK had to interfere to stop his madness. Cayman must really look like the a**hole of the whole world.

        • SSM345 says:

          If Mac had his way, he would have already destroyed the marine environment and this project would be well underway as he gallivanted around the world playing casinos XXXXXXXX

        • Anonymous says:

          The UK stepped in because all was not above board in the award of contract to the Chinese, it wasn’t a cut in the reef they were worried about.

        • Pogo says:

          Are you just passing through?

  6. Anonymous says:

    Cruising in 2015 is no longer about traveling and seeing the world. It’s about risk-contained mass-entertainment fantasy and money. With perceived danger in Mexico and Honduras, the big liners with western Caribbean routes have all bought their own self-contained, palmed, tropical island compounds and are putting bulk of their port development budgets into sanitizing risk, delivering the imagined tropical oasis experience, and getting 100% share of their own gazebo rentals, entertainment, and confection. They are not interested in making any promises to Cayman with or without a pier. They actually don’t need us. Sure, they are curious about Cuba, and have cash set aside for Havana or Santiago, but only when they are sanitized to their standard and ready for prime time. There is no liner demanding that Cayman build a port. The FCCA might have suggested it once, but they are a conflicted advocacy group shaking down business owners for $25k a year. This expedient job-stimulating myth still endangers the welfare and solvency of Cayman. What started as a bad idea 10 years ago just gets worse and worse without any reflection on cruise innovation and market trends. It’s going to happen with or without a pier. We need to let it go, adjust to the new realities, and focus on what we are good at.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Mac would change his view on anything if it would get him one more vote! I think the cruise port was going to be a disaster anyway. They’d be better focusing on making Cayman a better experience of the passengers once they get ashore. That means getting rid of the rip-off touts and the lame excursions they offer.

  8. Anonymous says:

    He would change his mind back if the plans included a casino.

  9. Anonymous says:

    A lot of you have no clue. People forget what a ghost town we had and shops closing left and right when the ship arrivals dropped 2 years ago. A lot of town never recuperated and even Dart had to close some operations. The ships only brought back numbers after CIG negotiations under the premise that a dock would be built. If we don’t build this dock which just so happens to have the least environmental impact compared to any other dock design bar none, this island will have a recession that will filter throughout the whole island. The Island needs the cruise industry just the same way it needs the diving and the stay-over visitors. The people standing up against it have nothing invested in this island. They have nothing to lose.

  10. A.kilpot says:

    I would like to thank the writer ‘Anonymous at 6:18am’ Well said!!! Thank you. I hope you don’t mind if I second your observations.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Build a straight concrete dock to the edge of the drop off through the sand patch in the middle of the harbor and cantilever docking stations into the open ocean. It’s not rocket science.

    • Anonymous says:

      From the cantilevered docking stations a glass underwater walkway to shore is the way to go. What a an attraction that would be! The tourists can view our natural underwater world on their way to shore.

      You’re welcome Cayman!

  12. Anonymous says:

    why all the secrecy…..all we have is he said/she said….where are the official documents issued by all these cruise lines saying that if there is no pier(s), there will be no people coming? Or if only some passengers, then how many? and how does that compare to now? if memory serves, we’ve never had a pier that ships could dock alongside…yet all those insisting on the piers keep referring to the glory days of 2 million passengers or close to it… did they get onshore again?!

    and if the pier(s) are built, are they being guaranteed certain amounts of passengers over the next however many decades? can we see these documents please?

    and if built, are the cruise lines guaranteeing they will stay overnight? there are many who doubt they will because they have to sail at a certain economic efficiency between ports…so they may well be time-barred from staying overnight in Cayman!

    just what we need…a lovely, empty concrete car park every night, saddled with unserviceable debt….awesome.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Mac, the ultimate leader. He sees which way the people are headed then he runs in front of them and yells; “Follow Me!!”

  14. In the know says:

    So I’m supposed to listen to a bunch of expat dive masters who work for the owner of the tender ships and a lady who rents a camera shop from his hotel while me and the rest of the taxi drivers and bus drivers lose the money that feeds or children? Not today Bobo!

  15. Anonymous says:

    Carnival has ordered 4 of the largest ships ever built and royal Caribbean has 4 quantum class ships being built (launching this year the anthem of the seas and them the ovation and harmony in 2016) these are adding to the already 3 oasis class shops that currently sail right by cayman. These mega ships will replace all of the smaller ships and Cayman will be soon written off of the map if we don’t build this dock. Mega ships are jot going away, rather they are the way of today and rhe future. Wake up Cayman.

    • Sam says:

      Good! Focus on quality not quantity.

      • Anonymous says:

        Another ignorant uninformed person. The bigger ships are the ones that carry higher ticket prices and higher end customers. That’s the name of the game now. If you want quality you have to take quantity too.

        • Anonymous says:

          Totally Wrong. The biggest ships are Royal Caribbean. Materially downmarket from Celebrity which are somewhat smaller and nowhere near as classy / ‘higher end’ clientelle as eg Seabourn which are a fraction of the size

    • Anonymous says:

      The reality is that the mega ships are getting bigger and bigger more quickly than Grand Cayman could – or should – grow. The newest RC ships are 20/30% bigger than Freedom of the Seas etc. Even making the docking possible for them you are still going to be pouring so many people into town that it will not be a pleasant experience. As such, trying to accommodate the biggest ships around is no longer even a medium term viable strategy for us. Why can’t we look to restoring our place as upscale / beautiful suited to the smaller – Silverseas etc – type lines. The guys on those cruises are well heeled. Surely much better to have 4/500 well heeled passengers wandering around in small town – and maybe buying a decent lunch and souvenir than 4,000 cheapskate Floridians who will choke off town as tehy wander around aimlessly, then DEFINITELY walk down the jetty to gorge on the free buffet on board having splashed out on a Hard Rock Café pin

  16. Philip says:

    Give Mac another couple of weeks and he will be spouting off about having it in West Bay again, conveneantly very near some of his land owning’s.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Gee if i can get these nutcases to back off a little maybe I can still slip dem Chinese guys in there somewhere.

  18. Anonymous says:

    The cruise lines are rethinking their mega ships idea as it is not working. They were designed to include lots of activities and keep their passengers on board, it is not working as the majority of passengers want to go see land based attractions and meet the indigenous people, hence the return to smaller ships with around 400 – 500 passengers. The lines want to share less and less revenue with the people of the ports they visit, we have to be bold and call their bluff all land base activities sold on board should be split 35/65% at a minimum with 65% going to the land based companies. Yes, we need them but they need us also, one is no good without the other. Many ports I have visited are tendered and that includes the Mediterranean, the ports with docks for the most part are so far away from the towns it takes 1 hour drive to see the city and that includes destinations in Mexico.
    NO, NO to the port development, our water attractions are small and very stressed and they cannot handle any more stress. Let’s keep what we have and make them more attractive and the port will not help in anyway to do that. 2 million cruise tourist a year is like having over 5000 additional visitors traveling in and out of Cayman every day of the year. Greed is a terrible thing but ignoring the past and pandering to special interest groups are a lot worse. Who are we developing for, how much money $ is enough $ money. With integrity, Plan for Prosperity, Develop for Prosperity, and all will be well, our middle class is disappearing and if it ever get below 50%, it na bad yet. Please do these Islands proud, you will not regret it.

  19. Anonymous says:

    The damages are more than what we have to gain, according to the EIA. Look for a suitable location, South Sound or Spotts. Procrastination is the thief of time, act now, not later.

  20. NoMo ADHD says:

    Maybe we ought to nibble on some Rum Cake and think it over for the next 15 years. Ditto regarding the highest Mountain on Earth.

    • Anonymous says:

      “It is not enough to balance, in the medium term, the protection of nature with financial gain, or the preservation of the environment with progress,” he writes. “Halfway measures simply delay the inevitable disaster. Put simply, it is a matter of redefining our notion of progress.”

      The quote above is extracted from the Popes poignant statements on Environment preservation. For those local Catholic faith proponents of the destruction of our reefs to suit their financial model, let us see how you argue against this.

      • Laudato Sea says:

        Oh the delicious irony!

        But internal conflict has never ever swayed the faithful. They just turn the other blind eye……

  21. In the know says:

    It’s my understanding that the CI DOE edited some of the EIA study including the “15 acre” information. It sounds like most of that area includes either sand bottom or barren bottom. The consultant needs to clarify what actual area is live coral. Information seems to pit the live coral at 10-15% of the 15 acres stated at best.

    • Anonymous says:

      Editing reports is something this and the previous government are expert at doing. No surprise there!

    • Department of Environment says:

      The DoE did not edit any results of the EIA; all results presented were produced and calculated by the EIA consultants. Please read the ES as you are confusing the presence/absence of coral reef habitat with the % of live coral cover which is an indicator of coral reef health. The 15 acres is correct for reporting the amount of coral reef habitat that will be directly removed by the dredging.

      • Anonymous says:

        Who are you trying to fool. Go dive the area and you will see for yourself what % is live coral and what is sand and hard flat bottom that has had no live coral on it in our life time. If there was no editing or influence over this report where is the measured area of live coral to be transplanted and relocated to be able to calculate the cost of such an exercise, a cost which is in the report stated at CI$13m. Shame for not being totally impartial and unbiased.

        • Anonymous says:

          The Baird presenter said the 13$m was an absolute minimum, it could be far more. There is also a map in the report of live coral area destroyed and negatively impacted.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Of course he wants the piers! If the ships can stay overnight and open their casinos, oh happy days!!

  23. Blotto says:

    Wow. Mac and Arden. Voices of reason. Champions of the environment. Strange happenings indeed.

    Probably best for everyone fly up to Miami and buy lottery tickets. Quick.

  24. Anonymous says:

    wow…. mac flip-flops…even in opposition!

  25. Anonymous says:

    Now we understand why Big Mac wanted to build the dock and do the EIA afterwards.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes, Mac was in bed with the Chinese company and was in no way going to let the environment get in the way of his casino on the upland part of the plans.

      • Anonymous says:

        yes and he would have no difficulty using his credit card since technically he would be still in the Cayman Islands. Win win for him.

      • ThIs WrItInG Is VeRy IrRiTaTiNg says:

        I wonder if there were any “real estate bills” that CHEC paid that have since been refunded?

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