Petition against dock garners 1,000 signatures
Protesters have gathered more than 1,000 signatures for a petition to prevent construction of a $150 million cruise pier in George Town harbor.
The petition, organized by photographer Courtney Platt, urges government to drop the plan following the findings of an environmental impact assessment which concluded that a large area of coral reef would be destroyed as a result of the project.
Mr. Platt said it would be a “fiasco” if government went ahead with the cruise pier given the level of destruction outlined in the report.
Mr. Platt acknowledged that a petition alone may not be enough to sway government against the plan, which is supported by some local businesses, including Kirk Freeport and Tortuga Rum Company, whose owners believe jobs depend on a new dock being built.
He believes a people’s referendum may ultimately be required to stop the project. Protesters would need to gather signatures from 25 percent of registered voters in the Cayman Islands to trigger a referendum.
Mr. Platt said, “There has to be another solution beyond destroying the reef and the visibility in the harbor.”
He believes the quaintness of a tender operation and the clarity of the water in the harbor actually add to the experience for cruise tourism visitors.
The petition states, “We truly respect the great deal of good intentions, expense in time and resources that have gone into preparing this long-awaited proposal, but we believe the long-term cost to the environment is too great for the relatively short-term gain.
“The environmental impact assessment indicates that dredging and its silt plume will destroy much of the unique, thousands-of-years-old reefs that we currently earn over $9 million/year from and upon which numerous water sports operations are primarily dependent. Soto’s South will certainly perish, but the deadly silt plume will likely affect all of the reefs in the harbor to various extents, including Soto’s Central, Soto’s North and Eden Rock.”
The environmental impact assessment appears to have galvanized opposition to the project. Around 200 people attended a presentation last week by government’s marine engineering consultants Baird, with the vast majority speaking in opposition to the plan.
Mr. Platt, who also spoke at the meeting, said the level of impact detailed in the report was starting to make people, including non-divers, pay attention.
The petition adds, “The view from town will be dominated by the ships and murky water emanating from their thrusters. The silt cloud will spoil the wreck of the Cali as one of our most accessible and fishiest snorkeling experiences.”
It concludes, “Please, please, please, do not dredge.”
Tourism Minister Moses Kirkconnell has said that Cabinet will assess the findings from the report and public consultations before making a final decision on whether to proceed.