The Last Chance for Lighthouse Point campaign has brought a mobile billboard to The Walt Disney Company’s D23 event this weekend in Anaheim, CA, to draw attention to the growing global opposition to Disney’s current plans to develop a massive cruise ship port at Lighthouse Point (LHP) on the island of Eleuthera in The Bahamas.
Lighthouse Point is a unique untouched natural site treasured by generations of Bahamians and people around the world. 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 Lines Island Development, Ltd (DCL), granting them permission to develop a cruise ship port at the site.
The 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 stopdisney.com petition has attracted nearly 70,000 supporters in just 5 weeks. 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.
The D23 event brings together Disney fans from across the country to celebrate the company. Disney has stated its commitment to “ensuring a world where wildlife thrives and nature is treasured and protected”. The Last Chance for Lighthouse Point mobile billboard calls attention to the contradiction between that promise and Disney’s current plans to develop a cruise ship port, including a half-mile-long-pier, in an untouched natural environment and proposed Marine Protected Area.
Many supporters of the Last Chance campaign have indicated that they are long-standing Disney fans, but they have been shocked to learn that Disney Cruise Lines is planning to develop a cruise port and pier in such a special place surrounded by seas containing endangered coral reefs and rich marine life. Bahamian environmental groups remain eager to cooperate with Disney on a win-win alternative.
Casuarina Mckinney-Lambert, Executive Director, Bahamas Reef Environment Educational Foundation added: “Lighthouse Point was proposed for protected status because it contains endangered coral reefs and critically important habitats for valuable marine species. The construction and operation of a cruise ship port with a half-mile-long pier would undoubtedly have negative impacts on the marine environment. If Disney wants to continue their environmental legacy, they need to seriously reconsider more sustainable development for Lighthouse Point.”
Sam Duncombe, Executive Director, reEarth added: “Disney’s plans to develop a massive cruise ship port in a proposed Marine Protected Area set a dangerous precedent for the future. The fact of the matter is, cruise ship ports do not belong in proposed Marine Protected Areas. No company that builds and operates a cruise ship port in a proposed Marine Protected Area can be considered environmentally conscious. Wildlife will not thrive and nature will not be treasured if they proceed as planned with the construction of the pier. If Disney is genuinely committed to environmental protection this should be an easy decision. There’s only one way to look at this – it’s a moral obligation.”
Joe Darville, Executive Director, Save the Bays added: “We are eager to see Disney engage with Bahamian groups to implement a more environmentally and economically sustainable alternative at Lighthouse Point. We do not want Disney to leave South Eleuthera, but rather, we want to help them pursue a better option for both the environment and the people of South Eleuthera.”
Phoebe Shaw, Executive Director, Last Chance for Lighthouse Point campaign added: “Disney has a unique opportunity to set a new precedent for environmental protection and sustainable development. Our oceans are already facing mounting threats, and we need to do better to preserve the marine resources we have left. Lighthouse Point presents an opportunity for Disney to further their own environmental legacy and set a new standard by pursuing a more sustainable alternative for Lighthouse Point and South Eleuthera.”
Rashema Ingraham, Executive Director, Waterkeepers Bahamas added: “The Bahamas Government was moving in a progressive manner with its commitment to protect and preserve 20% of its marine environment by 2020. That being said, the fact that the proposed area for Disney’s 0.6-mile-long pier is within an area that is to be preserved and protected interferes with “mobilizing efforts to conserve and sustain the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.”
Marc Yaggi, Executive Director, Waterkeeper Alliance added: “Disney’s commitment to environmental responsibility is being tested at Lighthouse Point on Eleuthera in The Bahamas. Lighthouse Point is a unique and valuable natural environment that deserves protection. We would expect that a company like Disney would maintain the same policies and values regardless of location. It is doubtful that Disney would attempt to implement a development of this scale at such a special natural place in the United States. Disney must uphold the highest international standards at Lighthouse Point. Waterkeeper Alliance with our Bahamian partner groups stands ready to meet with Disney to discuss a win-win alternative.”
For more information about the campaign and its founding organizations, please visit StopDisney.com.
Feature image by Shane Gross