BNT joins call for environmental protection legislation
Bahamas National Trust (BNT) Executive Director Eric Carey joined the call for the implementation of environmental protection legislation in The Bahamas following reports that Carnival Corporation cruise ships discharged hundreds of thousands of gallons of treated sewage in Bahamian waters in 2017.
He also praised Attorney General Carl Bethel and Minister of the Environment and Housing Romauld Ferreira for their responses to the matter.
“Well, I think the issue of the dumping of the waste by cruise ships certainly was an awakening for all Bahamians, and I think globally,” Carey said in an interview with The Nassau Guardian.
“I mean, you’re looking at a company that pleaded guilty to infractions and was on probation and we’re still finding that these things are happening, and that’s U.S. law and international law, but I certainly support the sentiments expressed by the minister of tourism and also the attorney general, that we need to look at our national laws.
“I also applaud…the attorney general speaking to the need and the commitment to establishing broad environmental protection legislation.
“And I know that this is something that Minister Ferreira has been talking about since he came to office, his having a comprehensive piece of legislation which will allow him as the minister to be able to set regulations to deal with a lot of the issues.”
Bethel indicated last week that his office is currently working on environmental protection legislation with the hope that it will be ready by the end of summer.
Carey said, “Having an environmental protection act, which allows the minister of environment to set regulations to really govern all aspects of the environment, I think it’s going to be instrumental and it’s going to be landmark, and it’s going to be fundamental for us to be able to effectively regulate what’s happening in so many aspects of our environment.”
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).
U.S. District Judge Patricia Seitz appointed Steven Solow to monitor Carnival Corporation during its probation.
Solow’s first annual report, covering the findings from the first year of the ECP’s implementation, was made public by Seitz two weeks ago and revealed numerous instances of ships improperly discharging sewage and food waste.
Carey, however, said he does not believe the revelations of the report should impact whether or not Carnival can move forward with its proposed development of a cruise port in Grand Bahama.
“I don’t think that the two are related,” he said.
“I think that the government of The Bahamas has a robust environmental impact assessment (EIA) system. The director of the [Bahamas Environment, Science & Technology] BEST Commission, Rochelle Newbold, is very competent.
“And I know that they are going to pay close attention to the EIA.
“So, I think within our country, not withstanding the fact that we still need more regulation, we have environmental impact assessment regulation already in place, and we have the protocols for reviewing them.
“So, once the government establishes that they want high standards for the operation of that port, I don’t think it will be a problem enforcing it.
“So, we will see what the EIA says to see whether it will even be approved, but once it is approved, if it is, then we have to set in place monitoring protocols to ensure that, again, this doesn’t happen, the dumping.”
Education: Virginia in Charlottesville, BA in Foreign Affairs and Spanish