Carnival Corporation’s dumping of sewage in Bahamian waters is “environmental savagery”, Minister of the Environment and Housing Romauld Ferreira said.
“It was very disturbing to hear that those allegations were raised. If they are proven to be true, then I would deem that as environmental savagery of the highest order,” he said in an interview with The Nassau Guardian at the opening of the Bahamas Protected Areas Fund (BPAF) office on Friday.
“So, it’s something that we take very, very seriously considering that there are a number of cruise ships that pass through our territorial waters.
“And this isn’t the type of behavior that we would want to encourage or [in] any way condone, and so as minister of environment, in the very strongest terms, we condemn such behavior. It is totally unacceptable.”
Ferreira added, “It’s an assault on our national birthright, on our national heritage, on our natural patrimony, on the common good, and the common good is to be enjoyed by all.”
The minister’s comments came following reports that Carnival Corporation cruise ships dumped almost 500,000 gallons of sewage in Bahamian waters in 2017.
“My initial feeling was one of revulsion, because here we are, 100,000 square miles of ocean, which is predicated on the fact that we don’t have nutrients,” he said.
“One of the reasons why we have such beautiful waters is that we are oligotrophic, which means that we don’t have nutrients, and to nourish it by way of sewage or food waste or any of the other things that I read in the report, is very disappointing, and certainly we would expect to be respected.
“This is our country, and, so, in the Ministry of Environment and Housing, we have to stand up for what we believe is environmentally right and in the best interest of all Bahamians.”
Attorney General Carl Bethel last week indicated that he hopes to have environmental protection legislation ready by the end of the summer.
Speaking on the matter, Ferreira said, “Fostering greater environmental protection is a plank of the Minnis administration, and it is certainly something that I am mindful that we were elected to do, which is why we have tackled some of the big issues.”
The minister said those big issues include the New Providence Landfill, the revetment system to prevent oil leaking into the ocean at Clifton Pier and the new solar car park at the Thomas A. Robinson Stadium.
Ferreira added, “But there’s another very important component of that, and it’s environmental legislation. And I have been pressuring or strongly encouraging for these things to happen. Upon coming to office, I mobilized a team within the ministry to do just that.
“What’s happened in the past is frameworks have been enacted, but the regulatory component in relation thereto has lagged.”
He added, “So what we want to do is not just pass the framework, but pass the regulations that will speak directly to these types of situations.”
The minister said that while he cannot speak to how seriously cruise lines take protecting the country’s environment, he can assure the public that the government takes the matter seriously, and that he will do everything he can to ensure that the environment in The Bahamas is properly protected by the law.
Ferreira said, “We take it seriously, but we’re also constrained by the fact that it’s 100,000 square miles of oceans with 400,000 people, but that being said, I think the real question is that we must discharge our essential duty, and it’s our essential duty to protect our environment by all the means that we can all the time.
“The environment is one of those things that truly unites us, because in the wake of this story, you can see it for yourself.”
He continued, “I’ll do what I can with every fiber of my body to ensure that these laws are actually addressed. I’ve been working short of drafting them myself. I’ve really put a lot of energy and effort into getting this done.
“We will ensure that that happens, and I am very happy to hear that the attorney general himself has indicated that this is a priority.
“So you can hold me to account to that.”
Education: Virginia in Charlottesville, BA in Foreign Affairs and Spanish
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