CPR activist joins call for cruise overhaul

| 03/09/2020 | 24 Comments
Cayman News Service
Carnival Corporation has been caught and fined several times for pollution

(CNS): A leading member of the Cruise Port Referendum campaign and local environmental activist, Linda Clark, has joined a new global organisation which is calling for major change in the cruise sector. With growing concerns here about the negative impact of mass cruise tourism, Clark hopes this new group will help Cayman benefit more from the sector and reduce the environment damage when cruise ships return to George Town.

On Wednesday representatives from port communities around the world and those from related organisations came together on Zoom for the launch of the Global Cruise Activist Network. Its goal is to help ports and those impacted by the sector to coordinate their efforts and directly address the negative impact that this industry has worldwide by encouraging and pressuring cruise companies to do better.

GCAN hopes the sector will adopt a set of guidelines, called the Principles
of Responsible Cruise Tourism
, before they begin sailing again. Clark, who represented Cayman, said the network is not anti-cruise but aims to promote these improvements.

“Communities around the world are now communicating with each other, sharing information and increasing our bargaining power to negotiate a fairer, more equitable share of risk and rewards from the transnational cruise lines operating their businesses across multiple jurisdictions and shared international waters,” she said.

She said that, as with other industries, a set of guiding principles is actually good for business. For example, in the accounting sector the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) in the US and the UK “do not stop business or are anti-business; they promote equity in business”.

She continued, “The Principles for Responsible Cruise Tourism have been thoughtfully drafted by civil society members directly impacted by cruise operations to urge the cruise industry to become better employers, respect their on-board guests, treat the communities they operate in more conscientiously, while taking ownership and responsibility for the global impact of their operations.”

Clark said the activists are asking cruise companies to take their corporate social responsibility seriously and to do things better when the world emerges from COVID-19.

During the global conference on Wednesday, in which around 100 people participated, including the international media, the stories about the negative impact that cruise lines have on destinations were very similar to Cayman’s challenges. While there are unique issues in some ports, the broader problems of the poor return per headcount, the negative environmental impact and the undue influence of cruise companies on local governance were the same.

Cayman faces an uncertain short-term future regarding tourism in general. However, it is clear that, in light of the cruise port project controversies and the part that cruise ships played in bringing COVID-19, few want to return to the previous situation. There is growing support for scaling down cruise tourism and scaling up overnight tourism.

The cruise industry has a far greater detrimental environmental impact in relation to the financial benefits per head. And the environmental damage has been a focus for Cayman’s younger activists, who will be the ones facing the consequences if the cruise industry does not change its ways.

Ben Somerville, from Protect Our Future, who sat in on the call for the launch of the GCAN, took note of the similarities of the issues all ports are facing.

“With such a diverse group of members, spanning from Australia to the UK back to the Caribbean, everyone seems to have problems revolving around the same areas,” he said. “The cruise industry is undeniably a key part of Cayman’s economy. However, the systems that are put in place currently only lead to negatives. With ships refusing to use shore power, their engines are polluting air quality drastically. This pollution is leading to health issues and expediting climate change globally,” he added.

Sommerville also said he was worried about the “level of secrecy” around the cruise industry, as he reflected on the lack of disclosure about on-board crime, worker exploitation and damage to marine life. “Something needs to change,” he said.

The POF activist, a high school student at CIS, had met with executives from Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines when they came here to promote their part in Cayman’s ill-fated cruise berthing project. “It was evident that there were only specific aspects they were willing to share,” he recalled.

Sommervile said he understood the economic element of the sector for Cayman. “But I am also cognizant of the damages that they are causing. By pushing for changes to occur, bettering the systems and protecting our island, we can benefit economically from cruise tourism while maintaining a pristine environment,” he told CNS.

Olivia Zimmer, another POF member, now studying overseas, said it was encouraging that Cayman joined in the launch of this global coalition pushing for radical social, environmental and economic reforms. “We have a unique opportunity to take proactive steps in order to protect the future of our islands and we cannot let cruise travel return with the same unsustainable ways,” she said.

The network obviously has an uphill battle but by coordinate knowledge, expertise, information, data and experiences relating to the global engagement of communities with cruise lines, each port or non-profit organisation can learn from each other.

“The Global Cruise Activist Network is giving a voice to people living in port communities worldwide,” said Karla Hart of Juneau Alaska, one of the organisers of the network at the launch. “Our organising efforts are giving us the power we desperately need, to better organise in our communities and to demand that the cruise industry doesn’t return to business as usual.”

She explained that the emerging network members had already been able to support fellow activists.

She said that how to “demand additional noise restrictions, better understand how ports and cruise terminals are being financed, share what works for community-led air and water pollution monitoring, learn from locations dealing with referendums and legal actions, and track where and when cruise ships are returning” is now being shared by port communities around the world.

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Category: Business, Science & Nature, Tourism

Comments (24)

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  1. Anon says:

    I suggest that the powers that be study whatever Bermuda does and do the same. My wife and I have cruised all over the Caribbean, cruised across the Atlantic to and around the UK, portugal and Scandinavia and crossed back to New York. We have cruised to Columbia, through the Panama canal, and up the West coast of Central and North America as far as Vancouver, Canada. Bermuda was maybe our favorite port. They have it together. One thing they do is to encourage ships to stay 2 or 3 nights. That allows the passengers to engage in night life and venture out on a slower pace. Bermuda also has an excellent bus and ferry system that allows visitors to easily get from place to place. My understanding is that Bermuda has a population of around 60 thousand, similar to that of Cayman.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for all you do, Linda!

  3. Tourism Department Distress Signal says:

    The best way to maximize a commodity’s value is to limit supply. Ask any drug dealer. Or DeBeers.

    Otherwise you follow the Walmart model where high volume forces a race to the bottom. This is the current Cayman approach to cruisers.

    Limited access will result in a more affluent visitor and a better experience for both tourists and residents.

    The jewelry merchants will also benefit by selling more expensive goods instead of junk and t-shirts.

  4. Anonymous says:

    what a bunch of nonsense….why stop at cruises then?…why not tackle airlines which cause huge amounts of environmental damage?

    • Anonymous says:

      Slow your roll. Do you yell prostate cancer matters at a breast cancer fundraiser?

    • Anonymous says:

      So how does it feel to refute decades of scientific data that has been peer reviewed and confirmed? Do you just assume that you and your pal on facebook are automatically the smartest most well informed people on the planet? I really want to know how a person can look at the data and at everyday life and just say “nah it’s a scam”

  5. Anonymous says:

    When and if cruises to Cayman are permitted, it would be a good start to limit it to no more than 2 ships at one time.

  6. Anonymous says:

    A very similar photo to that appeared in Net News in 2007, it was taken from SMB. This is apparently an issue with those vessels on main engine start up and that’s not just black smoke, there’s toxic soot in it that settles back down onto the land and the sea.

    The only good news is that odds are all of those older vessels (that’s Carnival Elation – launched in 1998) are going to end up headed for the scrap yards because it won’t be financial viable to re-commission them after what is going to be a very long lay-up.

    • Anonymous says:

      Sorry, that should read ‘financially viable’. I hit the ‘post’ before fully checking it.

    • Anonymous says:

      11:54 Pretty much the same as the issues with the older airliners? Hundreds of them are heading for the boneyards. It’s going to be interesting to see what happens in the coming months. There’s already been one instance of an airliner taken out of storage and put back into service without being fully de-mothballed. According to the report I read it was back in service for two weeks before a routine maintenance check discovered the problems.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Yes, but who are we kidding, it’s not just the cruise ships. Governments and decision-makers needed to be having frank conversations about energy choices decades ago. At this point the planet should be looking critically at the whole footprint of agriculture/transportation/shipping everywhere (including jet transport) and implementing switches from carbon-based fuels to renewable-powered ammonia NH3 capture systems. This is in the UN IPCC Reports. Agricultural methane production won’t be cleaved until there is a switch from North American to a plant-based protein diet. NH3 capture technology has existed for decades but it’s political greed, self-interest, and stubborn habit that keeps the oil and gas fields pumping – even in the absence of commercial sense. NH3 capture can bank renewable power now and balance grids until grid-sized supercapacitating energy storage becomes reality. Maybe the COVID-19 production shuttering, and the possibility of a center-left Democratic USA gives human (and many other species) one final hopeful last chance to get it right. Diet change/methane reduction, and NH3 capture are the immediately actionable low fruit, at least for the leadership-role first world “haves” that can enjoy liberal access to education and science.

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