BNT raises alarm on Bimini ferry terminal
Guardian Staff Reporter
Published: Oct 23, 2013
The Bahamas National Trust (BNT) said yesterday it remains very concerned that a proposed berthing facility for the Resorts World Bimini SuperFast ferry would cause “irreparable damage to the surrounding environment”.
“While the intrusion of regularly scheduled cruise ship calls into the pristine marine environment of Bimini is not supported by the BNT under the current proposal, the BNT is mindful of the organization’s responsibility to provide advice to both the government and to the private sector on the means of achieving the best possible environmental outcomes where development takes place in environmentally sensitive areas,” the BNT said in a statement.
“It is the view of the BNT that the proposed location for the jetty, artificial island and extensive dredging for this development, in close proximity to so many key dive sites, is incompatible with sound environmental policy and practice and if approved will likely cause irreparable and continuing damage to the marine environment of Bimini.
“The proposal to locate the artificial island atop a portion of a live reef is especially troublesome.
“It is also noted that the ship’s turning action and reversing into its berth as envisioned in the environmental impact assessment (EIA) will continue to push sand from the sea floor onto the sensitive live coral reef on each occasion that the ship calls on Bimini.”
The Resorts World/Genting Group and RAV Bahamas formed a joint venture to bring a boutique casino and the Bimini SuperFast cruise ship to the island.
The Bimini SuperFast and the Resorts World Casino were commissioned in June.
The BNT also said it had recently received a copy of the EIA from Resorts World Bimini but remains concerned that a copy had not been made available to the public.
An executive summary of the EIA, which was obtained by Guardian Business, suggested that the proposed ferry terminal and offshore island being constructed by Resorts World Bimini would bring an additional 570,000 tourists to the island each year.
The EIA also found that the construction would create “a direct loss of low-relief marine habitat including algae, sponges and a low density of corals”.
A polling of 50 residents found that while many feel the project would create an economic benefit, they also feared the impact the project would have on the marine environment, according to the summary.
The BNT said it appreciates the level of investment that Resorts World has made in Bimini.
“The Trust has requested a meeting with relevant agencies including the BEST Commission to discuss their preliminary findings and to offer alternatives so as to lessen the impact on the marine environment, which constitutes a significant part of Bimini’s economy and history,” the BNT said.
Fred Smith, QC, told Guardian Business that Save The Bays as well as Bimini Blue Coalition instructed attorneys to file a judicial review action to “quash any permits that may have been obtained without due process”.
He questioned why permits were granted to construct the facilities before the EIA was released to the relevant agencies.