Petitioners oppose cruise pier

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. 

Devil’s Grotto off George Town is among the dive sites under threat from the port development. – PHOTO: ELLEN CUYLAERTS


  1. Let’s see, what we have here, build a pier at the cost of 200 Million Dollars that is estimated to bring in around 7 Million dollars a year. And the sacrifice will be destroying most of the reef in the area as well as an estimated 9 Million Dollars a year in lost income.

    Now I am not an accountant and I regularly use a calculator but even to me there seem to be something wrong with this. Where’s the value for money people always talk about.

    I myself was all for the pier being built, but I don’t think it’s worth that type of environmental destruction.

    Aren’t these the same folks that fought against the East End Pier plan with saying it would damage the environment because of the need to cut a channel through the reef.

    Personally I did think this was a great idea for that area and would have been perfect for the Cruise Tourists experience and was to be privately funded not paid for by the tax payers it also had other aspects to it in the form of upland development that would have increased its sustainability. However it was also riddled with environmental damage issues. I even read suggestions that ranged from it would destroy the water lens to the east end of the island would break off and fall into the ocean.

  2. Absolutely right.
    Time to say NO, NO and again NO! to building this pier.

    Not worth the environmental carnage just a sell a few more T shirts and Stingray City tours.

    But YES to re-designing the tenders for easy and quick on-off.
    How about a cost analysis on this?

  3. Being a frquent tourist and diver of the Caymans and having been on several cruises, I thought I could weigh in on the cruise pier. Having dove many sites around the island, I find myself at a loss for never having dove or snorkeled the Cali. I would hate for the pier blasting to change or ruin any dive sites. The water will settle eventually, and if it’s deep enough the cruise ship thrusters shouldn’t present a lasting issue of stirring up the water. The Kittiwake dive is one of the best dives I’ve had in a long time and would be terrible if the blasting altered it in any way as the storms did the Ora Verde. On a different note, getting off the cruise ships onto bobbing vessels is dangerous having done it and didn’t like it. The pier idea works very well for safety and comfort as I’ve also stopped at several of those including somewhere as backward as Jamaica (in my opinion). Are the floating piers such a bad idea? I’ve been trying to follow the story and heard it was all but ruled out and I didn’t hear why. Progress sometimes causes changes, but hopefully not at too much expense of the reefs that we’re still trying to recover from an anchor dropping in the wrong place. I guess I’m for the piers with minimal devastation.

  4. Gov spend 2 millions in the report if it written with gold ink it will not coast that much this gov throw the country money away and the poor caymanian cant afford pay his bills it sad we have such gov next 2 years ..port should be in deferent location not in gorge town

  5. I love how Cayman was a hidden treasure. If you have too many cruise ships people will say it’s too crowded and not come. Keep it like it is. It’s too busy now. The first time we went we fell in love with it and the last time we came. It was crowded and the only time there were things to do and opened was when the cruise ships were in. I think you’re heading in the wrong direction. The cruise ship people are only there for a day. It’s the hotel guests that stay and spend their money. Fill all those beautiful hotels. Keep the ocean clean from ships and don’t lose the beauty of the sea life and coral. That’s what made Cayman don’t take it away

  6. Most days there are cruise ships I’m on the dock dispatching tours and I’ve already heard people questioning why the government wants to destroy such a beautiful place just to please the few. Most people coming off the ships enjoy the experience of taking the tenders I don’t even pay attention to the very small percentage that complain because you can never please everyone no matter how hard you try. Now I would rather 1% complain than the other way around where that same 1% are happy there is a dock there and the other 99% don’t come back because a dock has been built. I’ve been on tenders and pointed out turtles to a group of kids and have the pleasure of hearing them laugh with delight as they see one in the wild or for the first time. All of this will be gone just to please a small group if this pier is built. There are so many divers that are still new to the sport or that don’t dive regularly that come just to dive the sites around the George Town area because they are easily accessed and perfect for people not comfortable with boat dives. I myself an avid diver for 21 years still enjoy these sites when I want an easy relaxed dive. The Balboa is one of the most amazing night dives I have ever done in my life I’ve seen things on that site that you rarely see anywhere else, and this along with all the other sites in the area will be destroyed. For what? A small benefit to a few? I say concentrate on the airport and bringing people in that will stay on island and spend thousands of dollars instead of messing up a good thing for persons only spending a few dollars and are only here for a few hours. I’ve heard some of the business owners refer to anyone that opposes this and just a bunch of environmentalist well I’d rather be called that than a greedy soul who only saw $ signs and ruined a country.