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Govt considering change to maritime laws

The government is eyeing the introduction of domestic laws to crackdown on sewage dumping and pollution by cruise ships in Bahamian waters, Minister of Transport and Local Government Renward Wells said.

“…We have ratified the MARPOL (maritime pollution) convention and there are six annexes in the MARPOL convention,” Wells said.

“Of the six annexes, The Bahamas has really only put domestic legislation for two, one for shipwrecks and the other for oily discharge. We have not put in domestic legislation for sewage, for ship pollution, for dangerous substances being released, and I think the other one is the collection of bilge water.

“So, we are now, as a government, looking as to how we can put in domestic legislation to be able to address the issue of sewerage release into the environment.”

According to The Bahamas National Requirements, which was released by The Bahamas Maritime Authority in 2017, The Bahamas acceded Annex IV of MARPOL in 2017.

The annex prevents the pollution of sewage by ships, however, The Bahamas’ accession only applies to Bahamian ships.

Speaking about the convention, Wells said, “It’s interesting now because the baseline of the international law for MARPOL is that if you are three miles out from an island, you can discharge treated waste; and 12 miles out from an island, you can discharge untreated waste. That is what the international law allows ships to be able to do.

“We need to decide in The Bahamas whether we are going to go with that or whether we are going to say, ‘There is no discharging of [sewage] anywhere within the territorial boundaries of The Bahamas, treated or untreated.’

“The government of The Bahamas is going to have to make that decision and if we decide that is what’s going to take place, then we’re going to have to put the requisite infrastructure in place to collect sewage from ships, treated sewage, collect bilge water, collect all of these substances and be able to charge [cruise ships] fees.”

A recent report revealed that Carnival Corporation cruise ships discharged nearly 500,000 gallons of treated sewage into Bahamian waters.

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).


Jasper Ward

Staff Reporter at The Nassau Guardian
Jasper Ward started at The Nassau Guardian in September 2018. Ward covers a wide range of national and social issues.
Education: Goldsmith, University of London, MA in Race, Media and Social Justice
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