Cousteau urges CIG not to build port

| 04/10/2018 | 69 Comments
Jean-Michel Cousteau, Cayman News Service

Jean-Michel Cousteau (Photo by Carrie Vonderhaar of Ocean Futures Society)

(CNS): World renowned ocean explorer Jean-Michel Cousteau, who founded the Ocean Futures Society, a marine conservation and education organisation, has written to Tourism Minister Moses Kirkconnell  and Environment Minister Dwayne Seymour urging them to reconsider plans to develop the cruise berthing facility in George Town Harbour.

In the letter he points out that the project would destroy the George Town reefs, adding, ” I hope the decision makers will see that the value of keeping what draws tourists to their island, the ocean and its reefs, is far more valuable in the long run than more cruise ships and a congested George Town.”

Cousteau, who has been a dive ambassador for the Cayman Islands and worked with the Department of Tourism for many years, said, “I cannot passively let these coral reefs die without voicing my concern! I am speaking out on behalf of my marine conservation organization, Ocean Futures Society, and hope that the people of  the Cayman Islands will also make their voices heard through the petition that is being circulated.”

He stated that he was “surprised and dismayed” about the removal of Department of Environment Director Gina Ebanks-Petrie from the steering committee that was previously guiding the progress of this proposal, especially as the project will be in a marine park.

The famous marine activist wrote, “I am sure that she and the DoE see the need to protect such reefs as Eden Rock and nearby coral reefs. My recollection is that reefs that would be destroyed by the development are already designated as protected reefs under the Marine Parks system. They have been protected for the past 25 years.”

In his letter Cousteau echoes the concerns of local divers and marine conservation experts that the project will destroy reefs, not just in the dredging area but more widely because of the increase in sediment.

Jean-Michel Cousteau, Cayman News Service

Jean-Michel Cousteau in the Cayman Islands

“During my 70 years of diving I have seen many communities develop commercial infrastructure along their coastlines,” he said. “I know from personal observation that development and related dredging stirs up sediment. Once this material is suspended in the water sediment mitigation is impossible where waves, currents, and tides keep water constantly in motion. In other words sediment will spread from the site, cover reefs and kill corals.”

He said there was no way to mitigate the impact of the construction in the ocean, describing it as “impossible and I think past environmental impact assessments have made this clear”.

Cousteau points to the Conservation Law that states government should not undertake projects that will harm the environment.

“It is clear that the project being proposed would definitely harm the environment,” he pointed out. “I have always been impressed that coral reefs and clear waters exist around George Town Harbor. Our Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ambassadors of the Environment education program for kids and adults regularly brings participants to Eden Rock and adjacent reefs and I hope we can continue to share these natural wonders with guests for the long-term future. We are doing our best to educate the public about the importance of Cayman’s natural heritage.”

The ocean expert also noted that there is a limit on how much can be gained for tourism by further development.

“There is no doubt that tourism has improved the economy …but there are limits,” he said as he pointed to the existing congestion on busy cruise ship days in George Town.

“Shopping on Grand Cayman is not what draws people to the island — it is the natural environment. The reefs are already stressed from climate change, over-fishing, and increased nutrient input. Maintaining Cayman’s reefs requires that we reduce human impact, not increase it,” he added.

Urging government to think again, Cousteau said the environment is the heritage of Caymanians and decisions made today will have consequences for generations to come.

See the letter from Cousteau in the CNS Library

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Category: Business, Marine Environment, Science & Nature, Tourism

Comments (69)

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  1. Ron Ebanks says:

    Someone said that what Ezzard Miller is doing is for power , No what he’s doing is what the other 18 politicians aren’t doing , that is fighting for YOURS and the ISLANDS ENVIRONMENT FUTURE . You have to be able to see what one is doing to see if it is right or wrong , and what is going to be the consequences/benefits of it . I see that what he’s doing is for the benefits of EVERYONE’S FUTURE INCLUDING THE NEXT GENERATION of Cayman Islands . But you have to be able to see it to agree with him . So therefore WE All have to open our eyes and minds and stop looking at our favorite politician only , and stop thinking that he/she is your friend , because most of them he/she isn’t looking out for you in their decisions making .

  2. Anonymous says:

    If Cousteau is correct and the building of the dock will break the Conservation Law why don’t those opposed to the dock try to raise funds to hire a top attorney and fight this thing in court? I am sure there are many attorneys here willing to take on the fight and many other people willing to donate funds to the cause.

    • Ron Ebanks says:

      Anonymous 11 :15 am , there’s no need for Attorney’s involvement in this pier project at this point . What is needed is for people to understand and see what is at stake here and sign the petition for referendum so that this project don’t go any further . You have to look at everything about it environmentally , the future of it and yours and the Islands future with an open mind . If you don’t you will only see that Mr Kirkconnell is the one that wants it done , and believe that he can’t make a mistake . No one has never got that big or old that he can’t make a mistake .

      • Anonymous says:

        if you are having difficulty getting the signatures for the petition how are you going to be able to double that number to win the referendum?

    • Anonymous says:

      I’m sure some of the lawyers who have done so well in Cayman will donate their services for such a great cause. Please save our environment. Wake up Cayman once gone our environment can not be replaced. The Cruise industry is only interested in $.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Mr. Cousteau’s comments will be based on genuine concern, scientific knowledge and the study of previous similar situations, none of which our Government will apply. It’s unlikely that Mr. Cousteau would base his opinions on greed and limited benefits to a small special-interest group which is all our Government has considered!!

    • Anonymous says:

      Is it not just as likely that the anti port lobby is also led by special interest group ?

  4. TennDiver says:

    As a frequent visitor of the beautiful Grand Cayman Island, I was drawn to the Islands friendly people, beautiful beaches, clear water and great reefs. I would like to know how other visitors such as myself can help prevent this possible tragedy from occurring. I would gladly sign any petition that would help the cause. I pray that the peoples voice will be heard.

  5. Anonymous says:

    If you get the numbers to do a referendum we can debate.. build the dock!

  6. Anonymous says:

    Extend the runway, move cargo to North Sound, put six-eight permanent moorings in deep water, level off the cargo port and make an excellent tendering facility, build some multi level car parks downtown. Heck probably cost a lot less and you could still get China Harbour to do it if you let them have a casino.

  7. Anonymous says:

    lodge controls!????

    • Anonymous says:

      Control? Only in their minds until the almighty God is ready for them all. What a day that will be.

  8. Anonymous says:

    moses…alden…think of the marketing consequences….??? or you dont care?

  9. Anonymous says:


  10. Ron Ebanks says:

    Now this is very funny that Mr Seymour the Environment Minister couldn’t see the detrimental aspects of this proposed cruise ship pier and speak up before someone like Mr. Cousteau wrote and pointed it out , but now can ask Mr kirkconnell to reconsider the plans for the pier . And the government wouldn’t listen to Minister or the people before someone like Mr. Cousteau spoke about the issue .
    I have seen that in the government and politicians from the time I was able to remember ,, but the government wouldn’t listen to other Caymanians that pointed out the same thing . Why is that ?

    If you go back and read all the comments/opions on this pier project , you’ll find that People of Cayman said the same thing that Mr. Cousteau wrote .
    So it looks like when you have to get the government to listen , all you have to do is bring in someone like Mr Cousteau , but that is very disrespectful to the people of Cayman islands . I say vote them all out , and get a government that would commit to listen to the people and take the Islands back .

  11. Anonymous says:

    If the CIG don’t hear their fair share of warnings, the people of these islands will suffer for their politicians ignorance and greed.

    Such a shame what has happened to the Cayman Islands.

  12. Anonymous says:

    in the old days the citizens would have a mob ready to dish out the necessary roughness on those that went against the wishes of the society. The government needs to know that people of grand Cayman aint going to sit back and let this project destroy the fture of our kids without repercussions! Stop being such docile little lambs and act more like lions.


    • Anonymous says:


      • Sid Viscbanks says:

        Anarchy for the CI today!

      • Anonymous says:

        No, like Ezzard said last night, close parliament and call for elections.

        • Anonymous says:

          What a man hungry for power..

          • Anonymous says:

            Umm if we have elections then he knows there is a chance he may not be voted back in. How is that hungry for power? That is potential self-sacrifice for the good of the people.

            • Anonymous says:

              But elections also bring the chance he’ll get in with a majority of independents aligned behind him. (Or join a party and they get a majority.) – Not saying the OP is right but being willing to roll the dice isn’t proof of a self-sacrificial attitude.

    • Ron Ebanks says:

      Anonymous 7 :19 am , I agree , but the people have sat down too long like little docile lambs , and the politicians seen it . I think that it’s going to be hard for Caymanians to be like lions now . It’s going to take some drastic measures by the people to overcome this . So therefore WE All have to do what a man has to do , grow some tennis balls .

  13. Anonymous says:

    People! Have you lost your minds? Or your government did?
    The air you breathe is toxic and there is no solution. They promise you waste to energy? Read about “Anti-Garbage Incineration Around the Globe”. Only one was built in the USA since 1996. Ask yourself why.
    North Sound is a cesspool and here’s no practical solution.
    Your roads and sidewalks are built by mad architectors. There’s no public transportation. There’s overdevelopment. You’re drowning in your own waste and there’s no solution.
    Your children are being born with cancer. Mental health of your youth is troubling. Your children can’t do simple math.
    Your beaches are overtaken by developers and visitors.
    You have nowhere to run from this madness. You are on 2×4 rock. Unwitting lab rats.
    And, and
    your government wants to add piers to this nightmare?¡!!?¡!!?¿

    Isn’t it called self-annihilation?

    • P&L says:

      Seems so clear when you put it that way doesn’t it. But still so many cannot see or refuse to acknowledge how far we have fallen. We have basically trapped ourselves on a rotting sinking ship!

    • Anonymous says:

      A treat to marine environment few know about: Incinerators emissions.

      Let’s put environmental and health concerns aside for now, to emphasize the financial impacts.

      “Almost half of investment [in WtE] put in the in control systems to reduce toxic emissions such as mercury, cadmium, lead, dioxins, furans, volatile organic compounds etc. For example a 2000 MT per day incinerator can cost upwards of $500 million in Europe, half of the cost being put into emission control”

      Before CIG got carried away with the waste to energy project, read this and STOP the upcoming madness.

      There has been only one new garbage incinerator built in the US since 1996, a plant in West Palm Beach, Fla. An estimated 300 proposed incinerators were defeated by citizen and small business coalitions in the US from the 1970s-1996. Since 1996 an estimated 150 additional proposed facilities have been rejected at the local level.

      In case you didn’t know,
      People are exposed to toxics compounds in several ways:

      * By breathing the air which affects both workers in the plant and people who live nearby;
      * By eating locally produced foods or water that have been contaminated by air pollutants from the incinerator; and
      * By eating fish or wildlife that have been contaminated by the air emissions.
      Dioxin is a highly toxic compound which may cause cancer and neurological damage, and disrupt reproductive systems, thyroid systems, respiratory systems etc.

      You have already been exposed to all that crap. At least when someone attacks you, you can defend yourself. What do you do when you are being killed slowly and don’t even know about it?

      Read Compass article and editorial as well as CNS answers in “ask Auntie” section.

      Such a beautiful natural wonder as Grand Cayman is being assulted from all angles and sided. A true visionary could have turned it into an exclusive preserve for few to enjoy.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Go figure another Eco warrior said don’t touch anything in nature.

    Even if it happens to be I’m middle of a Port that had operated for a century. A commercial Port!

    Lawd a Mercy if it was up to three huggers we’d be walking around in wompas and not allowed cars still.

    • Anonymous says:

      Which three huggers?

    • Anonymous says:

      And if it up to people like you, Cayman would be completely paved over as you sell away the last of what made Cayman what it is and the reefs around the island would be dead and devoid of all life. On the bright side you’ll still have your port so that makes it all better right? F’n muppet.

      -Muppet “Head” Hunter

    • Anonymous says:

      Go back to sleep please. We’re trying to fix your problems

  15. A cayman friend says:

    Mr. Cousteau,
    Thank you. I fear there’s too many deaf ears right now, but your passionate voice can only help. I too am a diving enthusiast to the island, been visiting for almost 15 years with hundreds of dives. Cayman truly is unique, above & below the water, and I hope the Caymanian people can stand strong and power through.
    In their heritage is a very special place that’s worth fighting for.

  16. Unison says:


    People, ask yourself this question:   Why does government have to be in the business of transporting tourists from the shore or a cruise ship???


    If privately own small boats and tenders can service the visiting cruise ships ALONE (without governments interference), it will create alot of jobs for locals!  The same with our taxi service. The government will be out of interfering with Caymanian’s livelihood!

    PEOPLE, THIS CRUISE BERTHING FACILITY IS A SET-UP!  There is no reason for the government to get involve in the cruise ship industry on this island – except to benefit a few BIG NAME … [shall I list them … you know them!]


    If you love a freer market in George Town, not controlled by BIG NAMES IN BED WITH THE GOVERNMENT, please, vote against this massive project and takeover!

    A takeover that will hurt one of our greatest tourism products – our coral reef !

    Unison :/

    • Ron Ebanks says:

      I hope that everyone now see , that these politicians who you believe is your friends , aren’t your friends .

  17. Anonymous says:

    Mr. Cousteau, nobody is listening to the people who don’t support the port project. It is all about the almighty buck for this government. Take a look at the Facebook page: Support Our Tourism. That page says all you need to know. The pristine environment that you and people like you have championed and supported and which brought so many visitors and dive enthusiasts from around the world is going to be destroyed. Money talks. Fish, coral and the entire marine environment in the Cayman Islands mean nothing to this government.

    • Anonymous says:

      “The Lorax: Which way does a tree fall?
      The Once-ler: Uh, down?
      The Lorax: A tree falls the way it leans. Be careful which way you lean.”

      “But now,” says the Once-ler, “now that you’re here, the word of the Lorax seems perfectly clear. UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

      ― Dr. Seuss, The Lorax

    • Ron Ebanks says:

      Anonymous 7 :44 pm , but you and every Caymanian have to make Government listen to you . If you don’t they will eat your breakfast lunch and dinner every day .

  18. Anonymous says:

    Guess he will no longer be an ambassador for the government.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Cayman is unique. Lets keep it that way. We need to seriously start potecting the environment and stop allowing the dinosaurs who are supposed to be ensuring our kids will still have the natural envirobment, to sell us out to the highest bidder. They are so far behind the rest of the world when it comes to the environment, it is terrifying. Wake up before you do any more damage.

  20. Anonymous says:

    George Town harbour is just that a harbour! Regardless of how beautiful it is, it was a harbour long before it was a marine park, do any of these environmentalists have any other ideas how we should upgrade our cargo port or cruise facility to make the most of how the cruise industry is evolving, I’m all ears.

    • Anonymous says:

      Here are some ideas, place the dock if needed at spotts dock. That place is useless for most of the year and will not create any envorinmental issues. Then it would take the congestion out of George Town. It would generate and increase business in the Eastern districts. The now port can then be converted to a full time cargo and work can be day and night instead of currently only at nights. Supermarkets and stores would be stock 24/7. I am not an environmentalist or have a degree after my name. Just some common sense and it’s free!

      • Anonymous says:

        The sea coditions most days are not conducive in Spotts.

      • Anonymous says:

        You are wrong about no environmental issues at Spotts. There are bigger issues there than in the harbor. The harbor is the right place… the design which calls for massive dredging is the problem. Arden McLean has a great idea for a single pier that can traverse diagonally from 40′ deep to 110″ deep along the deep fore reef crest of the harbor. That area is already dead and silt free. Even the thrusters of daily operations becomes a non-issue in this scenario. But it remains to be seen if we even need that! Please come to the next Opposition meeting which will be held on Monday night starting at 7:30PM sharp in West Bay.

    • Anonymous says:

      “it was a harbour long before it was a marine park” tells me everything I need to know about your short sighted take on the world.

    • Anonymous says:

      “it was a harbour long before it was a marine park”

      It was a pristine fish and coral nursery for thousands if not millions of years before the “locals” showed up and turned it into a harbor!!

      I’m all for development but it MUST be sustainable! The plans for the dock are far too destructive to the environment for me to support! Furthermore, it’s going to financially cripple the islands AND we don’t have the infrastructure to deal with so many extra people! The plan is to keep more people on land for longer periods of time… So where are we going to put all of the extra trash? We can’t even collect garbage as it is! Then there’s the traffic issue… Just imagine how bad it will be when 4*6500 passenger mega ships let 26,000 people off in GT at 7:30am!! Good luck getting to work before 9:30/10ish!!

      Sign the petition and STOP THE PORT!!!

    • Courtney Platt says:

      Anonymous 6:52PM, obviously you are not all ears… you haven’t heard one of the several great ideas that have been offered regarding a better way to build a dock and you have not heard (or accepted) the many evidences shown for why we do not need to build a dock at all… or the difference in value of attracting instead of repulsing more of the much higher paying stay over visitors without adding a million more bodies per year to our tiny island. Please come to the next Opposition meeting which will be held on Monday night starting at 7:30PM sharp in West Bay. I’ll show you what we’ll be losing if we dredge (currently earning us between $9m and $27M per year also on the chopping block) and members of the Opposition will offer new evidence of how we’ve been misled into believing that we’ll lose cruise if we don’t build it. We have the only clear water port left, with great snorkeling and glass bottom boating a short walk from the dock, making us a special stop on the cruise route. If you believe we need this particular port design or we’ll tank, I truly believe you’ve been conned. Government’s biggest mistake may have been saying no to a single pier designed for two mega ships, which could be built deep enough to avoid dredging. You wouldn’t have heard from me at all. We all jointly own this extremely valuable, sustainable natural heritage that will be permanently destroyed if we dredge and should be permitted to vote on this issue. What about the quality of Caymanian life and stay-over visitation that we are losing as we over-crowd our roads and attractions? We are the frogs in the pot, wondering if maybe this water is getting uncomfortably warm.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Damn furriners don’t know shit.

    • Anonymous says:

      You’re a moron who doesn’t know shit and I’m a caymanian saying that to you!
      At least they care enough to voice their opinions unlike people like you that are ignorant. Don’t know facts and spew crap all day.

      • Anonymous says:

        Amen 8:23!

      • Anonymous says:

        I salute you!

      • Ron Ebanks says:

        Anonymous 8: 23pm , I agree and you said that very politely and gracefully.
        @ anonymous 6 :47 pm , how can you say that damn “furriners” don’t know shit , when you don’t even know how to spell “foreigners” , so it looks like it’s you that know shit .
        @ 8:31am , then how can you agree with someone that know shit , and say that three generations of Michael Cousteau family don’t know shit , and in the same comment acknowledged that they the Cousteau family has done so much in bringing MARINE ENVIRONMENT AWARENESS TO US ALL .

        I have meet and spent time talking with Jean Michael Cousteau and he’s a legendary Environmentalist , I would also say that he was good inspiration for me in being more environmentally responsible for our Cayman islands underwater environment . So I know he’s a good man and we all should listen to him including these politicians that are trying to destroy our MARINE ENVIRONMENT.

    • Anonymous says:

      @6:47 Yep you are absolutely right, Jean-Michael doesn’t know shit, his father and grandfather doesn’t know shit about the environment, all they did form the time they were born was scuba dive and sail around the world except for when they are highlighting the environment in their tv shows, National Geographic and many other publications to bring awareness to the marine environment and how precious it is to us all. All they did was found numerous conservation projects and groups, studied the marine world in all aspects for combined over 100 years of experience between grandfather, father and son, becoming one of, if not the most respected name in marine studies and conservation but yep you are right, they don’t know shit, why should we listen to them. Damn son you need to go back to the doctor and tell him you prescription for stupid pills is way too high.

  22. Anonymous says:

    CIG….when people like Jean-Michel Cousteau speak, you take heed.

    Stop the port. Stop the destruction of our environment.

    • Anonymous says:

      I met J-M at the Ritz-Carlton in 2007 and was impressed by the fact that he has a very clear understanding of what the Cayman Islands do, and do not. need. In fact he’d already fallen out with over CIG over differences of opinion on the best ways to protect these islands for future generations. It doesn’t surprise me at all that he’s stepped into this debate.

      • Anonymous says:

        Did you speak about all of the natural environment that was ruined during the construction of the Ritz?

        • Anonymous says:

          9:04 What natural environment? I remember the R-C site when the old Holiday Inn was there – the damage had already been done. I’d say J-M’s attitude is that while you can’t turn the clock back once a location has been trashed you can try to stop the destruction continuing throughout the island. That’s certainly the impression he gave me in 2007. Personally, I’d say the island has gone way too far to worry – it’s trashed, get used to it!

          • Ron Ebanks says:

            Anonymous 1 :52 pm , if you had continued to listen to him J M Cousteau you would have heard him say that Cayman has gone so far , but it’s not too late and can correct it from getting worse . That’s the theory that old people used, stich in time saves nine .

  23. Anonymous says:

    Please for the love and beauty of the Cayman Islands listen to this man. Put politics aside before we kill the goose who laid the golden egg.

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