Conservationists urge a stop to cruise project

| 03/08/2018 | 50 Comments
Cayman News Service

Tube Sponge on Balboa Reef (Photo by Courtney Platt)

(CNS): Save Cayman, a local non-profit conservation group that raises awareness about the need for greater protection for the country’s fragile environment, is once again calling on government to stop the costly cruise berthing project. Government’s plans to construct two piers and expand the existing cargo port in the George Town Harbour under some form of private-public partnership, posing a massive threat to the marine environment, has also caused concern over costs and who will ultimately pick up the tab.

“It has been our position that the environmental and economic costs of this project outweigh the benefits and there exists little evidence to suggest otherwise,” Save Cayman said in the wake of news that the project could be starting in a matter of weeks after tenants at the Royal Watler were told leases expire this month.

Save Cayman, like CNS, has made several freedom of information requests to get information about the progress and process surrounding what has become one of government’s most opaque capital projects. But the activists were presented with the same stonewalling, lack of information and detraction and confusion that CNS has encountered.

“We have engaged the minister and government officials and expressed our concerns and appealed for further, solid details that we can share with the public,” the activists said in a statement Thursday night. “We received concerning and contradictory information which prompted the FOI. On July 22nd we submitted the results of the FOI to the Ombudsmen office for review. This is still pending.”

The group of young activists said that they support transparency and good governance and want to see future development in Cayman balanced against the “preservation of our ecological and cultural heritage”, they stated. “We have iterated on numerous occasions that this is possible, however examples like this raise serious concerns,” the spokesperson for the NGO said of the proposed cruise project.

A previous petition asking government not to go forward with the proposed project collected more than 100,000 signatures, including many from regular stay-over night guests — an important consideration over this particular project.

The group is now turning its attention to a much more targeted petition for local voters. They hope that the government will take notice if they collect a sufficient number of signatures from registered voters who do not support the project. It also gives the activists an opportunity to press for a people-initiated referendum if there is enough opposition.

Over the last year or so, the mood in the Cayman community appears to have shifted more significantly to oppose the project. While CNS has always attracted a lively debate on this issue, the most recent story attracted over 100 comments in less than 24 hours, which were overwhelmingly against the cruise pier development proposal.

But the clock is ticking, as there are increasing indications that the tourism ministry is almost ready to announce who has been selected to design, build and finance the project, via what is evidently now a completely closed-door process.

In the meantime, Save Cayman is urging people to attend a free screening of Reberth on Saturday at 5pm at Cayman Cabana. The independent documentary provides insight into proposed development and local challenges for marine conservation.

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Category: Business, development, Local News, Marine Environment, Science & Nature, Tourism

Comments (50)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    It’s funny how they can find $300,000,000 for a new dock we may or may not need but they can’t find that money for new and better equipped school for the children of these islands to grow a better tomorrow.

    Keep the masses stupid and dull, makes them more malleable to conform with whatever you desire.

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  2. Anonymous says:

    With the constant threat to our financial industry we better make sure the infrastructure is in place for our tourism.
    I’m glad they are building our airport for the future, now they need to do the same for cruises.

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  3. Anonymous says:

    Seven Mile Beach already overcrowded and full of theft, where all these extra cruise passengers going to fit? Why bring more in? Where they going to go? What’s the point of the new port system? Logically it doesn’t make any sense, and that’s even without considering the factor of the harm to the surrounding sea life environment that it’s going to affect. It’s like killing the goose that laid the golden egg. It is the beautiful surrounding sea environment that makes the Cayman Islands attractive to tourists. There is no logic to building this new port to bring in more cruise passengers to an already overcrowded situation and destroying the attractive surrounding sea environment.

    Where there is no logic, is where there is instead greed, corruption and lust for power.

    GREED, CORRUPTION AND LUST FOR POWER WIPES OUT LOGIC!!!

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  4. Anonymous says:

    Dont’ build the new Port cayman and see the other Islands like St. Kitts, etc. take the bigger ships that are being built. Is CIG really paying one cent for this? find out who is paying for the initial build?

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    • Anonymous says:

      Wait. Who cares about what all the other islands are doing and WHY would we want to be the same as all the other islands??
      I don’t get that argument at all.
      Sounds like that’s what you said to your mom when you wanted something that all the other kids had.

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  5. Anonymous says:

    I’m just laughing at the 20 staff from the downtown jewelry stores that have downvoted every comment without even reading them! They’ve actually downvoted comments regarding money that should be spent on education. These are obviously ‘visitors’ to our islands that don’t care if our children are educated or not.
    YOU have NO say in the matter because you do not ‘live’ here, you only work here and you’ll only be here until you get rolled over. You are not going to retire here and live out your days.

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  6. Anonymous says:

    The UK needs to step in at this point. They stopped Mac They now need to stop this foolishness.

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    • H for Help Us Cayman says:

      What a fool you are 8:46pm! They have and taken their governor because he got in the way of progress!

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  7. Caymanian Patriot says:

    The only reason this corrupt governement wants to go ahead with this costly mistake is to line their own pockets with $$. Truly another disgusting act by the select few in power. Remember the people hold the power and by denying us our basic human rights, like the right to vote and voice or concern about this environmental project we have the authority overthrow this government. You want a revolution? Because this is how you get one.

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    • Anonymous says:

      It is also within our constitution that we are a “country that defends its environment and natural resources as the basis of its existence” and a “country that manages growth and maintains prosperity while protecting its social and natural environment”. I am curious as to how the project as we currently understand it provides this constitutional protection.

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      • Green Reeper says:

        We will lose our constitution and the potential for future independence if we don’t uphold it. Things seem to be evolving against better judgement of the minority. Instead, our money jaded government is a bulldozer in the face of environmental responsibility and preservation.

  8. Bertie :B says:

    everyone that has a boat , park flotilla of boats so as nobody can get in to do work , contact the international news agencies , send them pictures and videos of the barricade , if it makes international news all the experts will way in and make the world aware of what a bad idea this is . Keep it peaceful but be prepared to stay their for weeks , natives from many countries still use these tactics for stopping big oil or mines etc , it works .

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  9. Anonymous says:

    I don’t care what the government says (or does not say), and I won’t believe any “scientific evidence” they will show depicting a lack of environmental impact from this project.
    It’s an excessive cost that will lock the economy for a while. It’s money wrongly used, misdirected, that could have a greater economic impact on Cayman youth…that’s a return-on-investment that cannot be calculated. And above all, it is allowing pride & ignorance to quickly erase what Mother Nature spent years creating underwater.
    It is all there for a reason, and quickly disappearing.

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  10. Anonymous says:

    I’m ready to help!! Where when tell me what I can do.
    I don’t care who gets the ball rolling. I’m ready to get on board.
    Where’s the petition
    When is the march????!!!!

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    • Boat operator says:

      How many of these save Cayman, are Caymanians?

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      • Anonymous says:

        What does it matter? There will probably by less” Caymanians”than non-Caymanians or status holders.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Save Cayman’s Administrators are all Caymanian. The volunteers are Caymanian. Follow them on facebook and see the faces that represent this group because they are Caymanian. They are representing the young Caymanians, but the benefits of this are few (if any).

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    • Gaby Gisele says:

      Please come to the screening tonight at Cayman Cabana at 630 pm and find out more!

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  11. Anonymous says:

    We want to stop the culture of opaque backroom dealing and that still permeates at least the Cabinet office by seeing a firm date set for enactment of the Standards in Public Life Law. We want to see the business case, engineering feasibility (in particular the bathymetric surveys, temperature and accoustic changes expected, and associated bleaching impact, as well as bedrock testing for piling locations), and EIA for the revised plan, along with undisclosed estimated annual running costs (insurance, dredging, ongoing depth survey costs, tug boats, harbour master fees, and maintenance for associated equipment). Then we want to know estimated project cost and who is going to pay for it, and on what basis. Then, after a period of public digestion and education, we can put the data out there to the public for a Referendum on the topic, and finally, if all was good, an International RFP process following best industry practice. This is how it should have happened, because we are supposed to be smart people that follow rules. Since it isn’t happening this way, the entire Cabinet should be under intensive ACC and FCO review, and the public should think about why we would continue to let these people run anything.

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  12. Anonymous says:

    Some thing’s never change!! The PPM has always been about over spending on the most grand designs that we cannot afford!! Just look at the school fiasco as an example. This bunch are going to bankrupt the country for the rest of eternity. I feel so sorry for our grand children. The only thing they will inherit is a completely trashed environment and a big pile of DEBT thanks to Aldart and his PPM stooges!!

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    • Anonymous says:

      Exactly. They built million dollar schools which are producing illiterate children.

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      • Anonymous says:

        You people need to get over it as the Unity Team and their big money supporters/handlers will do exactly what they want when they want. They have the deal in place already with the Dart Group and the Chinese.

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      • Anonymous says:

        @4:12 Yep, take a turn, clean it up nice and shiny, put it in a tux and top hat and all you have is a polished, dressed up turd.

    • Anonymous says:

      STOP THEM!

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    • Anonymous says:

      PPM/CDP/Independent – say what you will, but the reality is that we don’t see a single member of our LA vocally calling for enactment of the Standards in Public Life Law 2014, which was penned to give very minimal disclosure on conflicts and business interests. Not a single MLA of any description has demanded a start date. Therefore, one would have to conclude that they’re all in on the same game, colluding in silence in hopes of one day feathering their own nests. Worse – the registered voters let them continue this gluttonous charade, forsaking our OWN money, and our children, and grandchildren’s money. It’s unforgivable apathy.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Really!! What is the difference in the parties? Who was the first one in negotiations about building the cruise pier? All one and the same.

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  13. Anonymous says:

    Spend the money on fixing our broken education system!!

    We want capable teachers, we want trade schools, we want a school for the slower learners so they don’t graduate not knowing how to read!!

    We DON’T want a frigging dock!!

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  14. Anonymous says:

    The Auditor General and Anti-Corruption cops should be investigating this process and all parties involved before the biggest mistake in our history is made.

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  15. #EYESWIDESHUT says:

    There are only a handful of liners with an order book for the massive tonnage ships Moses is frantic to accommodate. Of those on the books, few are operating in Western Caribbean or destined for our hemisphere. So our Cabinet is madly rushing ahead and over-promising to satisfy one of these bullying liners (and probably SVP, Giora Isreal of Carnival). If we only have room for four boats, turning away one or two other boats we would normally get, and there may only be one or two mega-tonnage per week AND we are giving the landing fees to the builder of the facility for 5-10 years, how does the CIG make more money than they are currently?

    Our passenger arrivals could very likely go DOWN as a function of constrained docking capacity with no guarantees on arrivals. It’s dumb from every angle. Cayman will lose in every sense due to a few greedy merchants and compromised politicians who have a proven track record of negotiating bad deals for the country.

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  16. Anonymous says:

    Too late the ink is already dried! and equipment on the way to start , this has been going on for a long time behind closed doors just like all the other controversial projects on the island, this is another part of Cayman we won’t save

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  17. Anonymous says:

    This project and the long term environmental and financial mess it will cause the Caymans will be the best representation of the political legacy of Premier Alden McLaughlin and Deputy Moses Kirkonnell and every member of this government.

    A very bad and expensive decision that will be made worse by a pending global recession. Your leaders have not learnt any lessons from the last global recession.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6018135/Experts-say-housing-market-rate-rises-indicate-overheating-economy.html

    https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.thestreet.com/amp/world/global-financial-crisis-looming-on-horizon-warns-george-soros-14604110

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    • Anonymous says:

      While I agree and I’m glad you provided sources, the Daily Mail isn’t the best one to use if you want to be taken seriously.

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  18. Caveat Emptor says:

    Does the Opposition or “Government in waiting” have an official position about this matter of national importance or do the agree with the unity government and their actions?

    This project and the lack of transparency about the details and assoicated costs has more public objections than any other in recent history. The voice of the people must be heard.

    If any MLA supports proceeding with this madness by building this monstrosity which can potentially bankrupt the Caymans they need to be voted out of office next election.

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  19. Anonymous says:

    It is good to see our young people looking out for their and their lineage futures! Keep up the good work!

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  20. Anonymous says:

    This dock will not happen and the militant conservationists amongst us will make sure of it! It’s time for a little anarchy to shake things up!!

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  21. ThIs WrItInG Is VeRy IrRiTaTiNg says:

    Please provide a link to the petition to stop the pier project.

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  22. Anonymous says:

    The big problem groups like Save Cayman have is that as soon as they describe themselves as ‘conservationists’ most of the population here immediately assumes they’re ‘tree huggers’.

    Whilst I’m obviously concerned about the environmental impact the real issue to me is the fact that potentially this could bankrupt these islands.

    The people you really need on board here are money men who understand the concept of funding large capital projects like this and are prepared to point out the pitfalls. Bluntly, with none of the major cruise lines onboard for this it makes no financial sense at all. If it was a viable and profitable project they’d be queuing up to cash in on it.

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    • Anonymous says:

      So in your last sentence you admit economics always trumps any other valid concern. Or, does your “viable” admit environmental protection? Once the habitat is bulldozed, dredged or burnt there is no turning back, whilst your money men move on to their next killing.

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  23. Anonymous says:

    Where is the petition to stop this project, it could easily garner 5000+ signatures and force the government to stop the project when the mandatory referendum was held

    Plus once the petition even gets that many signatures the CIG will back down like they always do

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  24. Anonymous says:

    Again Cayman’s make believe democracy and transparent government is exposed. This government will ignore freedom of information and the will of the people to pander to jewelry store owners.
    Legal action is the only way to stop this disaster in waiting.

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