Every year, Friends of the Earth (FoE), a major American environmental group, issues an environmental report card for all of the major cruise lines. While Disney Cruise Lines has once again received the highest rating in its just-released 2020 report card, FoE downgraded Disney’s score from an “A-” to a “B-” because of the “push to build a massive cruise ship port at Lighthouse Point in the Bahamas which is opposed by community groups in the Bahamas for the destruction it would cause to this ecologically rich area that has been proposed for Marine Protected Area status.”
“We appreciate the attention Friends of the Earth has drawn to Disney’s plans that will degrade not only a proposed Marine Protected Area, but also a unique natural site at the southernmost tip of the island of Eleuthera that is treasured by generations of Bahamians and visitors around the world,” said Sam Duncombe. Duncombe’s organization reEarth is a partner in the Stop Disney-Last Chance for Lighthouse Point campaign that has gathered more than 318,000 supporters.
“In light of climate change-charged Hurricane Dorian and now COVID-19, Disney needs to rethink all of its activities in The Bahamas,” said Joseph Darville of Save the Bays, another Last Chance partner group. “We hope that Disney would support the call for an Environmental Impact Assessment on the restart of the cruise ship industry after COVID-19 so we can make smart decisions about building The Bahamas back better.”
“There is an opportunity for Disney to do something transformative at Lighthouse Point. Now more than ever, Disney needs to abandon its current plans and work with local groups on land-based, low-impact tourism that provides climate-resilient jobs and economic opportunities to Bahamians, while protecting the natural environment,” said Marc Yaggi, Executive Director of Waterkeeper Alliance.
FoE recognizes that Disney and other cruise lines have taken some environmental measures, but says there still is a larger question of whether “clean cruising is possible?” The report card finds that “in most cases the answer is still a resounding NO?”. The report card also states that “for decades, the cruise industry’s business practices have put the environment, climate, and public health of coastal communities, passengers, crew, and coastal and marine ecosystems at risk. In addition, most governments have refused to enact strong regulations for the cruise industry, ignoring the ongoing damage the industry does to communities and the environment, or have caved to industry pressure to develop their pristine resources for industry profit,” according to the FoE report card.
“There is still a chance to make Lighthouse Point a beacon of hope that The Bahamas can build back better from the current crisis and choose a new path to a more sustainable future for Eleuthera and The Bahamas,” said Sam Duncombe.