The Bahamas is under immense pressure from a rapidly growing cruise ship industry. Lighthouse Point is among the few remaining untouched areas, and any decision about its future should be fully informed and publicly debated.
Disney has worked for years to build a strong environmental record. Now it looks like their cruise line is about to make a big mistake at Lighthouse Point.
Development of a massive cruise ship port will cause irreparable damage to Lighthouse Point and the surrounding ocean - completely incompatible with the proposed protected status for the area. Disney plans to build a $250 million pier that stretches over half a mile over the seabed to transport up to 20,000 passengers a week to onshore entertainment facilities.
Construction of the pier and dock has been proposed directly on top of valuable marine resources, including coral reefs, endangered species and seagrass beds. Operation of the port will cause pollution, increase cruise ship traffic and permanently disrupt all forms of marine life. Constant traffic stirs up marine sediment and prevents corals and marine plants from getting the resources that they need to survive. This causes the breakdown of the entire marine ecosystem. Disney’s cruise ship port will degrade one of the world’s most diverse and beautiful environments. Disney should follow the lead of other cruise companies that have chosen instead to rehabilitate already degraded areas for their cruise facilities.
Disney has promised economic benefits for the people of South Eleuthera. However, with the release of the framework agreement for the project in March 2019, such benefits have become more unclear and doubtful. In fact, Bahamians will be severely curtailed in their economic access to passengers and will not experience anything resembling the promised “economic vitality” that captured the imagination of South Eleutherans. There are already indications that residents of the local communities will not qualify for the employment and vendor opportunities at the proposed port. Disney needs to set out in its EIA the basis and analyses of the economic benefits so that they can be measured against the environmental harms.
Lack of Transparency
So far, the Disney Cruise Lines subsidiary has been trying to rush through its cruise ship port proposal. The framework agreement for the project signed by DCL and the Bahamian government was signed in secret in March and was not released until over a week later. Many were surprised to see that the development was much larger than anticipated with much more questionable economic benefits. The concerns of Bahamian environmental groups about the EIA now underway for the project have been dismissed by Disney.