The owner of one of the companies which formed the consortium bidding to build a new cruise berthing facility in 2010 has said there should be more public support for the project.
Howard Finlason, owner of Royal Construction which previously partnered with Italian firm GLF has significant knowledge about the port area.
“I can say that I do know how difficult it is to get through the negotiations and to bring two of the world’s major cruise lines together in the partnership we are seeing today”, said Mr. Finlason.
“What we are wi tnessing is a uniquely beneficial deal for the Cayman Islands and frankly if it passes us by we may never see the likes of it again” he added.
Mr. Finlason said that based on the assessments done back in 2010 the port area does not have anywhere near the amount of coral as some opposing the project have suggested.
The area dock footprint as currently proposed, has no more than 5 acres of coral which will be directly affected within the area to be dredged, which by the way, is substantially smaller that that proposed in the 2010 plan. If we have a proposal to put mitigation measures in place to control the sediment during dredging operations to protect the coral in adjacent locations, we should proceed with the project. The expertise is certainly in place to achieve this.
Royal Construction’s affiliate company in Jamaica has been directly involved in coral relocation in Jamaica and has successfully carried out several projects including the relocation of thousands of coral and sea grass specimens for the expansion of the channel into Kingston Harbour in 2003.
“I have no doubt that the relocation is feasible because I have seen it done. But I’m also very impressed with the plan to replant coral because with the technology being proposed we could end up with a net gain in coral.
This is also an opportunity to replenish some of the areas currently damaged by the anchoring. Thankfully much of this anchoring will be discontinued once the two berthing piers are built”. He added.
Mr. Finlason said that he felt the economic impact of the new port would be significant especially due to its impact on smaller businesses and sole proprietors.
“Thousands of persons rely on the cruise sector and hundreds of new jobs will be created” he said. “What are we going to do if we turn this opportunity down and find our cruise income cut in half in 5 years and hundreds of our people have lost their jobs? Let’s face it, the Cruise Lines have made it clear they are going to larger ships which do not facilitate tendering, they need to dock and they are willing, not only to partner with us to build this dock but to continue bringing the numbers required to pay for it, what more could we ask? It would be a shame to let this opportunity pass us by”.