DoE booted off cruise port steering committee

| 03/09/2018 | 95 Comments
Cayman Islands Tourism Ministry, Cayman News Service

Balboa Shipwreck and reef (Photo by Courtney Platt)

(CNS): The Cayman Islands Tourism Ministry has formed a new steering committee for the controversial cruise port development project but the Department of Environment is no longer represented. The original committee had not met for more than a year before it was reformed several weeks ago, and it is not clear why the new committee does not include this critical agency. DoE Director Gina Ebanks-Petrie confirmed Friday that she had received an email in June indicating that the committee was being “refreshed” and she was no longer required as a member.

However, the full negative environmental impacts of this project are still not understood.

CNS has sent questions to the tourism ministry about the change to the committee and the removal of the DoE and we are awaiting a response, but the ministry very rarely responds to this news organisation to queries about this project.

The DoE has persistently raised questions and pointed to the massive conservation threats the proposed development of two cruise piers in the George Town Harbour poses. In addition to the removal of swathes of coral to make way for the structure, the department has been particularly concerned about the impact of dredging on the marine environment.

The director confirmed that the necessary geological surveys needed to assess the real impact have never been conducted; and questions remain about whether or not the seabed will need to be blasted and how the sediment will impact way beyond the footprint of the project.

DoE researches have previously warned about the number of unknowns that will directly impact the marine habitat as well as engineering risks for the developers that will affect the length of the project and the costs.

The proposed coral relocation project has also failed to happen because the trial run poses a substantial number of problems. Testing with just one or a selection of random spurs cannot inform the whole project because all coral is different, which means it is impossible to generalize what will happen when attempts are made to move entire reefs based on the results of a small selection of pieces.

From the beginning, the environmental threat this project has posed has raised concerns across the community, even among those who support it in principle. The massive direct harm it will cause to the reefs and wrecks in the harbour in the area where the piers will be constructed is more obvious, but of equal concern are the much wider impacts from the construction process, the unanswered questions about the seabed and the remaining uncertainty about its impact on Seven Mile Beach.

The removal of the DoE and its cautionary advice as government moves closer to selecting a preferred bidder does not bode well when it comes to mitigating and minimising the potential destruction of the natural environment.

See cruise port project documents in the CNS Library

Related article: Cruise petitioners drumming up support this weekend

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

Comments (95)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Good, it’s about time. DOE is highly biased against any type of development. Everything comes with a sacrifice and this site is the only place in Cayman with mostly dead seafloor. Pick anywhere else on the island and you are looking for a real environmental disaster.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Removed DoE? That’s sad! Similar to how this Govt. stopped press briefings too eh?
    People we really need to sign this petition – it’s just asking for real transparency!

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