PLP MP calls for accountability after Carnival dumping revelation
The revelation that Carnival Corporation cruise ships dumped nearly half a million gallons of sewage in Bahamian waters in 2017 raises very serious risks for The Bahamas, former Minister of Transport Glenys Hanna-Martin said yesterday.
Hanna-Martin called the revelation worrisome and insisted that the right checks and balances must be put in place, considering the Minnis administration recently signed two agreements with major cruise lines.
In 2016, Carnival Corporation pleaded guilty to numerous charges stemming from illegally dumping oily bilge water into the ocean between 2005 and 2013, and its systematic coverup of the illegal actions.
The company was fined $40 million by a U.S. court and put on a five-year probation, the conditions of which included the development and implementation of an environmental compliance plan (ECP).
According to a report from a court-appointed monitor, the company’s ships illegally discharged nearly 500,000 gallons of treated sewage in Bahamian waters, among numerous other environmental violations that happened across the globe.
Speaking on the matter, Hanna-Martin said, “I don’t know the specifics about it, but I do know that for a country such as ours, which has such vast water resources … and a very huge boating/shipping industry and in particular a huge cruise industry, this raises very serious risk factors for the country.
“We are signatories to MARPOL, which is the convention on pollution of the oceans, and I think when we last served we exceeded the two aspects or annexes of that convention.
“So in terms of our membership at the IMO (International Maritime Organization), we are very much enlisted in the legal parameters of protection of our oceans and our seas.”
Hanna-Martin said that the government must focus on monitoring and holding the cruise line accountable in order to properly address the matter.
“That is why when we negotiate with these cruise industries for islands and cays and whatever else, that we have to ensure that we create a balance and that we don’t create an imbalanced situation, where we give huge concessions to the industry but we’re left holding the risk factors,” she said.
“This has been happening to a large extent and so I think that as we move forward there has to be a greater balance in our relations and partnership with the cruise industry to ensure that we are able to be properly resourced to meet the risks associated with the industry.
“The third issue is one of accountability. The question is, what will be done by the government should it find that this has happened and there has been violations? I think that’s an issue that there has to be accountability for.
“It’s very important that The Bahamas sends a signal that we value our water resource. It’s critical to our identity and to our economy and to our sustainability as a nation and we will not tolerate abuses or violations of the integrity of our maritime waters.”
Tourism Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar has said that new legislation may be necessary in light of these revelations.
However, Hanna-Martin noted that the government should also look at current legislation to examine possible repercussions for the company.