Students from Protect Our Future met with Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines (RCCL) President and CEO Mr Michael Bayley on Wednesday 2nd October to express their concerns about the proposed cruise berthing facility and presented a petition signed by over 200,000 people around the globe who are standing with the people of the Cayman Islands to call for an end to the cruise lines plans to dredge George Town habour reefs for a cruise port.
The petition, which continues to gather momentum, gaining over 30,000 signatures in just the past week, will continue until the matter is resolved.
The student leaders of Protect Our Future who attended Wednesday's meeting were Steff McDermott, Dejea Lyons, Lilly Langevin, Ben Somerville and Connor Childs.
Protect Our Future: https://www.instagram.com/protectourfuture.eco/
Extracts from Protect Our Future's presentation is included below.
Protect Our Future is the voice of the youth. We are an outlet in which the youth of Cayman are able to voice their opinions regarding environmental issues and be heard by all members of the community.
Our goals are to maintain sustainability on our beloved island, while still being cognizant of the importance of economic growth.
Our beaches and reefs are what make our island world-renowned. Our mangroves are what protect our island from utter destruction in the occurrence of a storm and our waters are what make Cayman such a great tourist attraction.
Without the protection of these crucial ecosystems, our island will not only be destroyed, but become obsolete.
Protect Our Future is the voice of the youth. We do not have a vote, but every major national decision affects us. We are the future generation of this island and we understand its value.
The referendum shows that our island is still in the hands of the people. We know our value and we ARE part of this process! These decisions will not be dictated to us.
This port construction will directly weaken our own island’s protections from natural disasters. Are you aware that we have lost significant areas of our mangroves, our seagrass continues to be removed, and now, our reefs are under attack.
The wrecks of Balboa, and The Gamma in George Town Harbor provide cultural significance and links to our heritage. Destroying historical sites that are ages old so to ensure that a few more tourists can step on our shores for mere hours, directly contradicts our National Conservation Law and Royal Caribbean’s own motto.
Protect our Future appreciates that there are various economic benefits that may profit the Cayman Islands from the building of the cruise berthing facility. However, our organization strongly believes that based upon available research, the economic benefits are far outweighed by the negative consequences to the environment and economy both to the Cayman Islands and more globally.
With the proposed cruise berthing facility being sanctioned to remove approximately 68,000 square meters of sea bed, there will be detrimental effects to the entirety of Cayman’s surrounding marine ecosystems.
According to the Central Caribbean Marine Institute, under the assumption that there will be a minimum of 1 foot of dredging for the entirety of the proposed twelve acre site, this equates to a volume of roughly 522,720 cubic ft of sediment being removed. With the removal and disturbance of such a large amount of sediment, the proposed dredging zone will not only be impacted, but rather there will be further negative implications to the surrounding area including.
All adjacent reefs to the sanctioned zone will have thousands of pounds of sediment settle upon them, thereby killing them over time. In addition, all of the marine life that is sustained by the reef will be impacted, either killing them or forcing them to relocate to other environments, which in turn impacts the ecology of that new environment.
Water visibility and clarity will be reduced materially. With such large amounts of sediment being disturbed, surrounding waters will visually become “cloudy” becoming less appealing to incoming tourists off the cruise ships, but more importantly divers. To further understand the importance of tourism and related dive industries to Cayman:
Additionally, under the proposed construction of the cruise berthing facility, more than 12 acres of coral will be removed. The removal of such a large amount of reef has extreme global effects. As the Central Caribbean Marine Institute states, “corals across the Caribbean region typically suffer 80% mortality within two years of relocation.” With such a low probability that the coral relocated will survive, the removal of these reefs will lead to their eventual death.