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Environmentalists protest Lighthouse Point project at Disney expo

The mobile billboard used by the “Stop Disney – Last Chance for Lighthouse Point” campaign during The Walt Disney Company’s D23 Expo this weekend in Anaheim, California.

Environmentalists yesterday continued to call for a win-win solution to Disney Cruise Line’s Lighthouse Point development as they carried on their protest of the project with a mobile billboard at Disney’s D23 Expo in California, heralding their “Stop Disney – Last Chance for Lighthouse Point” campaign.

The consortium of environmentalists, which includes groups like the Bahamas Reef Environment Educational Foundation, reEarth, Save the Bays, Last Chance for Lighthouse Point, Waterkeepers Bahamas and Waterkeeper Alliance, explained that they wanted to draw attention to the “growing global opposition to Disney’s current plans to develop a massive cruise ship port at Lighthouse Point” in South Eleuthera.

In a joint press release, the environmentalists explained that almost 75,000 supporters have signed their petition at stopdisney.com.

“Lighthouse Point is a unique, untouched, natural site treasured by generations of Bahamians and people around the world,” the release stated.

“The seas around the point are so rich with marine life, including endangered coral reefs, that they have been officially proposed as a marine protected area. However, on March 7, 2019 the government of The Bahamas signed a heads of agreement (HOA) with Disney Cruise Line Island Development Ltd. (DCL), granting it permission to develop a cruise ship port at the site.

“The ‘Stop Disney – Last Chance’ campaign has provided a platform for thousands of people across the world to share their concerns about Disney’s current development plan. The petition calls upon Disney to cooperate with Bahamian groups on a win-win solution, including locating their port to a more suitable site and pursuing a sustainable alternative to preserve the point and provide greater benefits to local communities in South Eleuthera.”

Environmentalists contend that Disney’s proposed half-mile-long cruise ship pier will disturb endangered reefs.

“Last Chance for Lighthouse Point” campaign Executive Director Phoebe Shaw said in the statement that Disney has a chance to “set a new standard by pursuing a more sustainable alternative for Lighthouse Point and South Eleuthera”.

“Our oceans are already facing mounting threats and we need to do better to preserve the marine resources we have left,” she said.

Disney continued to promote its environmental concerns as well in a press statement released yesterday, explaining that it intends to employ sustainable practices in building its open-trestle pier, which will eliminate the need to dredge a channel to accommodate its cruise ships.

The company added that it will establish environmental monitoring programs during the construction and operation of the project.

“Through the Disney Conservation Fund, Disney has provided more than $13 million to marine conservation programs around the globe, including several in The Bahamas. Since 2007, Disney has been directly involved in leading a multiyear initiative to protect and rehabilitate coral reefs in The Bahamas and will continue to work with leading conservation organizations and communities to protect special places there,” Disney said in its statement.

“Work at Lighthouse Point will begin only after an environmental impact assessment and environmental management plan are reviewed and accepted by the government of The Bahamas and public consultation has occurred. Construction could begin in 2020 with completion in late 2022 or 2023.

“Disney’s own internal team of animal and conservation experts is working closely with a highly qualified team of Bahamians and an experienced international firm to develop a comprehensive environmental impact assessment and environmental management plan that align with Disney’s company’s deep and longstanding commitment to the environment.”

Chester Robards

Senior Business Reporter at The Nassau Guardian
Chester Robards rejoined The Nassau Guardian in November 2017 as a senior business reporter. He has covered myriad topics and events for The Nassau Guardian.
Education: Florida International University, BS in Journalism
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