Key concerns over cruise port project, Part 1

| 19/08/2019 | 39 Comments
Cayman News Service

(CPR Cayman): As the Elections Office verification process passes 88% and the first constitutionally enshrined people-initiated referendum becomes a certainty, much of the critical data Caymanian voters will need to be able to truly make an informed decision has still not been made public by the government.

The government should release any undisclosed information that they do hold immediately, and the referendum date should be scheduled to allow for the completion of, and public consultation on, the updated Environmental Impact Assessment and updated Final Business Case reports to allow the citizens of our Islands to make a fully informed decision on this matter of national importance.

This 3-part letter seeks to highlight some, but not all, of the numerous significant and unquantified risks where mitigation strategies could be (i) high cost (ii) unidentified (iii) based on unreliable data or (iv) subject to environmental uncertainty associated with this project*.

1. Berthing facility design

Following the preferred bidder announcement on 29 July 2019, no design has been made public showing numerical data to quantify the direct impact of the footprint including dredge area, concrete area and location relative to the surrounding marine ecosystems of coral reefs, hard pan and sandy bottom habitat, and historic ship wrecks.

2. Marine Habitat loss

The 2015 design, which the Environmental Impact Assessment (the Baird Report) was conducted on, proposed direct dredging involving permanent and irreversible removal of 15 acres of coral reef and total dredging of 32 acres of seabed. A footprint with 20% less dredging directly excavates 12 acres of invaluable marine habitat, 25.6 acres of seabed in total, in addition to indirect lethal and sublethal impacts on surrounding reefs.

3. Sedimentation

Lethal and sub-lethal sedimentation from (a) dredging during (i) construction (ii) periodically during operation as well as (b) cruise ship thrusters during operation, will impact marine ecosystems approximately 220m surrounding the immediate dredged area (Baird Non-Technical Summary Section 14, illustrated in Figure 14.1). The public needs to have information on the design to see how extensive this indirect negative consequence will be.

4. Water clarity

Dredging of limestone and coral material creates milky white ‘clouds’ in the water column clearly observable at other port locations around the Caribbean. Cayman is famous for our enviable, over 100ft visibility, of water clarity. George Town Harbour’s breath-taking crystal-clear aquamarine waters are the first view of Grand Cayman for both air and cruise arrivals. This will be lost forever, replaced by a cloudy murky sea we are more familiar with only during Nor’westers (but without the high waves). Are we prepared for this irreversible loss and the immediate disappointment of our visitors?

5. Air pollution

Air Pollution risks, monitoring and mitigation have not been highlighted by the government despite an entire section of the Baird Report dedicated to air quality (Appendix G). Perhaps this is unsurprising as the Cayman Islands has no numerical standards on ambient air quality. There will be significantly more air pollution as a result of ships closer to shore and increased road traffic. Does government have any pollution mitigation strategies? How is government planning to prevent health-related illnesses from increased air pollution? Will government provide better health insurance over and above the SHIC plan? Is it fair that those working and living in the immediate George Town Harbour area are exposed to these toxic fumes?

6. Wave heights

Low-lying George Town residents and merchants risk an increased susceptibility of storm flooding once the natural occurring coastal coral reef defences are permanently destroyed. Seawalls are costly, unsightly and protection is not guaranteed.

Parts 2 and 3 will examine the proposed coral relocation, socio-economic considerations, job opportunities, infrastructure impacts, carrying capacity and the financing model.

In conclusion, we wish to emphasise the importance of ensuring the referendum question chosen by Cabinet fairly reflects the original petition wording and is clear, easy to understand for voters and ensures fairness and objectivity.

Linda Clark, FCCA, MSc Marine Environmental Management

On behalf of CPR Cayman

*Information has been obtained by CPR from publicly available reports found on the websites for the Departments of Tourism (DoT) and Environment (DoE)

See relevant documents in the CNS Library

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Category: development, Local News, Viewpoint

Comments (39)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    In 2018, stayover spent roughly $680m and cruisers spent $200m. How about using just $100m (less than half the port) over the next 4 years to enhance the experience, the travel and the promotion with the aim of allowing cruisers to dwindle by 20% and stayovers to increase by 20%. We lose $40m but gain nearly $140m per annum and it is distributed into the economy for everybody’s benefit. The loss of daily numbers eases over-crowding and makes attractions more enjoyable. Just a thought.

    • A. Bodden says:

      Isn’t it amazing that our CIG folk don’t know that? Cayman gains over $140,000,000 per year and we don’t have to blow $300,000,000 …….. or more. Do the math, CIG!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Sediment suspension decreases water clarity, and also changes: temperature, salinity, and acoustic properties. Suffocating sponges and corals that can’t move, despite the repelling and destructive forces on other wildlife. The Baird models warn this suspension would periodically flow northward on current to West Wall and Seven Mile Beach. It would take thousands of years to recover from sustained short-term bleaching events. The economic cost/penalty to biodiversity, stay-over dive industry tourism, resident and future quality of life, incalculable. Tone deaf to forty years of Grand Cayman being named as one of the top wall-diving destinations on the planet…home of the Scuba Diving Hall of Fame, no less!

  3. Anonymous says:

    This is about motivation. We can pretend it isn’t, but it is. There are two decades of damning cautionary reports (each of which condemn this endeavour in some way), yet this regime clings to false and refuted assumptions (for some reason), and carries on despite – ignoring prescribed process, expert cautionary statements, soundings, transparency, and pushback from the few that can read. They fully ignored earlier petitions in their entirety. Smart people already know it is a sour idea, but this regime, who refuse to enact basic good governance and anti-corruption consequences, aren’t being held to account or compelled to enact the very law that would open their motivation to public financial scrutiny. The voters are left to assume pocket-lining and crony backsheesh is at the core of this and every other cost-overrun project on the table, whether we want to admit that or not. Many voters seem content with very high ambient levels of systemic corruption as if they were powerless to do anything about it…and nobody has started a petition to demand enactment of SIPL to clear the fog.

    • Anonymous says:

      Anonymous 10:42 am, you are right on! If all of us Caymanians would work together, we can stop this idiocy. Vote NO on this money-wasting snow job!

  4. Anonymous says:

    CPR is going to struggle to find any legit concerns over this project as more information is available. Already most of their made up concerns are debunked. Soon they will only be able to argue that the paint color should be going to referendum.

  5. Anonymous says:

    What were the genuine/sensible/rational objections to a new port being built in East End or Red Bay? Is there any true benefit in building one in GT over those other locations apart from it facilitates the existing retailers in situ? Can’t we simply give them prime positioning should it be built elsewhere and move on? The existing buildings in GT could be transformed into residential and office, mimicking Camana Bay…although that’s probably too sensible a solution
    Just wondering…what’s the rush really? The thing should’ve been properly built when the RWT was extending in 2005(?ish?). Now it doesn’t really matter if its built today or in 10 years, the ships are still coming. Would be nice to do something right.
    I’ll go back under my rock now.

    • Anonymous says:

      1 – The port is simply not needed.
      2 – Re East End – see prevailing wind & sea conditions (as known by all Caymanian seafarers).
      3 – Re Red Bay – See environmental disaster
      4 – The port is simply not needed.
      5 – See corruption
      6 – Return to 1 and repeat.

      • Anonymous says:

        1 – Nor is 10 supermarkets, 20 gas stations, burger king, 300 bars and 300 restaurant. That’s an idiotic point, there a lot of shit that’s “not needed”. The dock is beneficial. Period

        2 – Agreed the west side is the best

        3 – Everything is an environmental disaster, see every development proposed in Cayman, you will hear the same pathetic sad song from the same ecowackos.

        4 – I see, the to avoid corruption, all development should cease. Excellent logic.

        5 – Get or buy a clue.

        • Anonymous says:

          Nor 737 churches

        • A. Bodden says:

          Bull hockey! The dock is NOT needed, 12:34, but I agree with you that it will be beneficial, but only to CERTAIN INDIVIDUALS, and it will destroy much of the environment which is what brings people to our island. Maybe YOU should “Get a clue”!

        • Anonymous says:

          There are two things that I consider not needed 12:34. You and the dock!

  6. Anonymous says:

    Cayman islands have tens of thousands of coral reef to dive and you’re concerned about <100 acres in an industrial shipping area??

    Sister islands have world class diving send on the divers they need the tourism more!

    Unna the type of people to pave a highway around a Mango tree.

    • Anonymous says:

      That is dumb.

    • Anonymous says:

      tens of thousands of acres of coral reef*

      • Courtney Platt says:

        If I recall what DOE told me, we have about 350 acres of hard coral coverage if just looking at coral reefs, not counting sand.

    • Anonymous says:

      God save us from morons like you.

      • Anonymous says:

        I bet you complained when they chopped down and cleared out the natural trees at Smith Cove too!

        • Anonymous says:

          No, but I would have had I known they were going to. All the sea grapes have gone and with it the last habitat for red shanks in the area. It is not nearly as beautiful as it once was, and is in any event called the Barcadere.

    • Anonymous says:

      Whenever there is a Cayman Port story,

      the anti-Port side

      including the morons, the dumb, the can’t read, the can’t comprehend come out to play

      and call the pro-Port side

      by the same names.

      Such a disappointing spectacle on all fronts.

  7. Anonymous says:

    frankly if they were going to build the dock they should have done it 15 years ago.

    Now it is too late, expect it to be a white elephant in 10 years. They are better to just build a 400 foot statue to the Honorable Mckeeva there , so he can look down on the latter day heroes at Heros’ square.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Someone needs to breathe some new life in to this CPR crew.

    • #HAVEYOURSAY says:

      CPR are doing more than you and elected members for the public to exercise their democratic rights. We know what they stand for too many people in this country stand for nothing.

      • Anonymous says:

        I am exercising my democratic right by supporting the port project.

        This referendum will be very costly and not guaranteed to halt the port project.

        If you support the port, YOU DO NOT NEED TO SIGN YES for it to proceed. Plain and simple. Did you have to sign yes to upgrade the airport??????????

        If you’re against it, YOU NEED TO SIGN NO for it to be halted!

        Referendum will be a huge waste and public expense if the 25% of people who registered don’t beat the other 75% of people who didn’t sign the petition..

        That is why people who support the port don’t see the point in a referendum besides giving people a chance to say NO.

        And if unna had enough NOs, you wouldn’t have taken a year + to convince people to sign your caliber of a petition.

        • Anonymous says:

          @2:35 You are correct. If you support the dock you don’t need to sign yes but the issue with that statement is. If you don’t sign yes then all you have is your opinion. Signing yes makes it official in law. Serious, take a political science class.

        • A. Bodden says:

          We should all exercise our democratic rights………. I will vote against urinating away $300,000,000 (or more) for a dock that will be a disaster for the Cayman Islands.

      • Anonymous says:

        I am exercising my democratic right to indifference.

    • Anonymous says:


  9. Anonymous says:

    What is so ironic here is that the very people they are trying to benefit by destroying Hog Sty Bay to build these piers will be the first and probably most negatively impacted. If this isn’t the definition of lunacy then I don’t know what is!!

  10. Anonymous says:

    In the words of the Warlaawd:


  11. Anonymous says:


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