Port faces environment risks

| 05/11/2013

(CNS): The environmental impact of the development of the cruise berthing facilities in George Town is likely to be one of the key issues to come up in the scheduled public meeting in George Town tonight. In the report released by government, which forms part of the strategic business case for the two piers, the environmental risks are laid out and give cause for concern. From the destruction of coral reefs to the erosion of Seven Mile Beach, the cruise port will have significant negative environmental consequences for Cayman. The report notes that the main environmental impacts relate to dredging but there are also concerns that the islands' natural attractions cannot sustain the increased pressure from the growth in cruise visitors.

Worryingly, the report notes that no research, statistics or scientific measurements have been done to see how much more pressure attractions such as Stingray City and local reefs could take in the face of the significant increase in tourist traffic the cruise berthing piers are expected to generate.

While government remains determined to go ahead with the piers, the community is still divided as the clash between cruise and stay-over tourism remains and people question whether the economic gain for some regarding cruise tourism will undermine the economic benefit for others from the more eco-sustainable and now growing overnight tourism.

The natural marine environment will suffer significant damage at the location where the cruise port project is planned as a result of the excavation of the seabed and regular dredging to ensure sufficient draft is available for the ships.

“This would lead to potential sediment impacts elsewhere. There is concern over potential impacts on the Seven Mile Beach area to the north of the port,” the report found. “Waves and currents will be effected by the presence of large vessels resulting in the potential to impact elsewhere especially on the shore. The marine habitat is likely to be effected with the potential destruction of corals leading to a knock on effect for tourism operators in the harbour area. Dive sites are likely to destroyed or impacted by the construction of a berthing facility, leading to the potential increased use of sites further away and resultants pressures on those more pristine facilities,” the authors write.

The report even goes as far as to say that people may no longer come to the Cayman Islands to dive and some tourist operators’ businesses will be at risk.

The proposed new cruise terminal is also located within a Marine Park Zone and there are very real concerns the project will impact the jewel in Cayman’s crown — Seven Mile Beach. This famous strip of white sand has been experiencing problems with erosion for some time and the project will exacerbate that erosion, which is already under pressure from many existing factors.

Government will begin the public discussions about the berthing project this evening at the Mary Miller Hall in George Town at 7pm.

See the relevant reports which will form the basis of the public meeting below.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    omg  we can NOT lose 7 mile beach for some low life cruisers

    cruise ship people are NOT spenders

    Stop the nonsense

    build the airport and leave the dock as is

    the tender process is an added bonus aka "adventure " for the cruisers

    be happy ship people !!!!!!!!!!!!

    its free !!


  2. Anonymous says:

    The economic impact on local businesses for a stayover guest can be 100 times that of a daytime cruise visitor; but the landing fees for cruise visitors are a major line item to sustain the heft of the CIG employment apparatus.  The pier project is not about quality tourism or managing visitor experience.  It's a numbers game to feed a gluttonous CIG.

  3. Anonymous says:

    So if Spotts Dock is already being used even without facilities. The water is already deep. There is not much going on in that area, so why not just consider to build the Peirs at Spotts. While that project is going on, it does not affect the operation of the port and cargo. Since most cargo is being transfered during the night, this can continue at the present dock. So the Spotts dock would be a passenger dock. George town remains a cargo dock. While at the same time can be a back up for smaller passenger ships. Then we can prepare George town with the right facilities to have the cruise passengers picked up and dropped of at the current area, since there will be more space for Taxi and busses to have an in and out area.  Of course the Peirs would have to be built with the current flow in mind to allow the natural drift of the seas to assist with release from the docks. Spotts is the safe and simple way of getting the cruise dock completed while using the current port areas for cargo and passenger distibution. That is the idea to have the passengers all picked and dropped off in a central location. Please give me some reasons or ideaswhy it is possible and if not some other suggestions, since it is obvious that the george town area might really not be the best for a Peir after all.

    • Anonymous says:

      To:Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 07/11/2013 – 08:21.                             I like your idea .Maybe they could do some improvement to the beach at Hog Sty Bay at the same time and create a public beach area right in the centre of town,like it used to be in the past.Wow. This would not only allow PPM to carry out their campaign promise to improve and renovate downtown George Town,but would eliminate the risk of damaging Seven Mile Beach..I really like this idea and hope that you will repost it on the CNS article entitled "Cruise port estimate $100 million"so that more people can voice their opinion on it. 

    • Jonas Dwyer says:

      You may have a point there.  The Island needs to have a second facility, but not Spots as the main dock, the currents there are tremendous. Interesting enough the new Price Water House proposition does it include Spotts as a back up?.


  4. Anonymous says:

    SMB seems to be going away. Didn't they say that water all over the world is rising ???? So what are you all talking about ?? Wasn't there a EIA done when Dart was going to build it ?? Glf ?? Wasn't there a plan to build after the TAC twenty years ago ? Didn't they write a report as abook that said in GT where it is now ??

    People the environmentalists are not always right. Examples of this : They said the west indian duck were extinct. They said the mangroves would stop the affect s of the hurricane ?? Well we see the ducks and 3 billion dollars later we know it didn't do any help with hurricane. 

    Cement, concrete has proven for 2000 years that it works . Ask the romans, their projects are still standing on water and land. So if the sand leaves no problem they will build 1 foot walls or 50 feet walls. It be above the sea and back fill with sand the way that parts of Cancun did. They will have a fabulous pool that you can play volleyball and still sit at the bar. 

    STOP making excuses and get it done.

    • SSM345 says:

      06:25, go and research a concept called "longshore drift", then tell me that SMB will be fine when they build a dock at the end of it that distorts the natural currents and movements of the sand.

      Risking the loss of SMB is playing withfire and if it happens then that will be Cayman's death sentence for tourism.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Watch The Palm Island, Dubai on Youtube An awe-inspiring engineering feat, Dubai Palm Islands is definitely the largest artificial islands on earth. May be some new ideas will come.

  6. Anonymous says:

    How can ppm afford the dock and three airports when the country does not have the funds?

    Moses we expect better from you. You acting exactly like AldeN and Big Mac with no regard for costs and environment

    • Anonymous says:

      Anon 1229 my question would be more along the line of why didnt the UDP do something about this while they were in. They went this way and that way and nothing got  done. if Mac visited  Russia he might have even dropped the Chinese next do.

  7. Dred says:

    Is there any surprise that there will be environmental issues with port? Can anyone tell me a place to put a port that will not create some environmental issues? I'm waiting…….still waiting…..thought so.

  8. Anonymous says:

    I don't know hwy people are worried anyway, I'm sure this is all talk and nothing will come out of it anyway..

  9. Anonymous says:

    Of all those posting comments on this matter, how many were at teh meeting last night?


    And how many will be at the next meeting to hear and see what is being proposed?


    I'm saying, I dont want to hear from you unless you can spare the time to come to a meeting and get informed.

    • Anonymous says:

      Not everyone has the spare time that others enjoy.  Some people have pre-exisiting conflicts that prevent them from attending every town hall meeting in person.  These people rely on media to keep them informed on what happened.  If the media are misrepresenting the story, then please by all means identify the discrepancy, for gold star special attendence credit.  If not, then these same people have every right to weigh in with their comments particularly on a topic that goes back almost 20 years now.  

    • SSM345 says:

      The meeting was mainly about the financing involved no?

      When they hold the next meeting later this month which actually addresses the main issue on most people's mind here i.e. the envirnmental impact, you can bet your ass there will be a crowd and they better come prepared to answer our questions.


  10. Kato says:

    This is crazy!! Let me see if I understand this, the port has been approved by our politicians yet no environmental study has been completed? So how can the project be priced properly? How do we know George Town is the best place for the piers?

    This government doesn't seem  to be much different from the previous administration. Where are the reduction on our gas bill as promised in your campaign?  PPM time to come clean about the truth regarding your campaign enough is enough!!

  11. Ugly Truth says:

    We have a finite supply of natural resource, which is the basis of most of our tourism product. We can easily understand that there are only so many Stinray City tours we can sell before the sandbar is so crowded there isn't room for any more. That isn't really even taking into account the impact overcrowding is having on the attraction itself.

    By expanding our cruise visitors we are then catering to mass tourism, which also means we are selling the product in volume which usually translates to low cost, low profit, inferior product type experiences. Shouldn't we focus more on bringing those stayover tourists that bring in more income to the island?

    If the sandbar can only support so many tours per year, the limiting of the supply would force the price per tour to increase. If I was a tour operator, especially if it was a founding family tour operator taking tours out to Sandbar, I would rather have 5 people at $100 per head than 30 people at $10 per head.

    Use that same logic with dive sites, the Mastic Trail, Pedro, etc.

    My opinion is that seeking to sell out our port to the cruise ship cartel for a lousy few million dollars is crazy compared to improving the desirability of Cayman for our stayover guests. I'm sure everyone knows families that have visited here year after year that are now either no longer coming or only every 2nd or 3rd year because Cayman's tourism product just isn't what it used to be.

    Ignore the port, improve the airport.

    • Anonymous says:

      Wow, you know someone who will pay $100 to go see some stingrays?  You're smoking something mate!  And as for the berthing facilities, why exactly does Cayman want cruise ships to berth overnight?  There really isn't that much to do in Cayman at night, just eating, drinking and clubbing, which is all included on a cruise.  So what exactly is the point of having a berthing facility as the cruiseshippers will all head back to the ship to do that.  Pointless destroying dives sites and reef to have 'tourists' partying on a boat berthed at a dock.

  12. Anonymous says:

    SMB is not just a jewel, it is ALL that Cayman Islands have to attract tourists. The whole tourism industry is based on SMB pristine water and sand .

    • Anonymous says:

      But the odd thing is it is not that great a beach.  It is narrow, sloping, badly developed, has no real scenery and has little by way of nearby entertainment of any quality.

      • SSM345 says:

        16:20, Isn't the sea the provider of the entertainment when one goes to the beach? Last time I checked it is pretty damn close.

        If not, what exactly do you go to the beach for? Sunbathing? Well that is about as entertaining as watching paint dry and also a pretty good way of giving yourself skin-cancer.

        • Anonymous says:

          Decent food, decent bars, decent stores, fun people, some culture, some music.  . . .

  13. Anonymous says:

    One question, why is Georgetown the only optionon the plate for Cruise Piers ?

    • Anonymous says:

      To:Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 05/11/2013 – 14:10.                               George Town ,not Georgetown.

  14. Anonymous says:

    just imagine….dart could have completed everything by now in an environmetally friendly manner…..

    i now get the feeling this will never get done…..

    • Anonymous says:

      Dart, Dart, Dart!  I am sick to death of hearing about that name.  Can't Caymanians think for themselves anymore.  I will say in this media as I have said vocally, and that is the Cayman should not give Dart any more control in our islands.  First, there was Dart, then there was the Chinese and now there are sensible, very well educated people at the helm of our tiny ship Cayman and you are still "nay-saying". Once and for all," We have to put the port facility in place or lose the very viable cruise tourism".  Our economy is practically "in the toilet" with cost of living so very high that people who did not do it before are now practically beggin just to help feed their families.  Stop the rhetoric about the previous government (dictatorship) and the present one and thank heaven that we now have honest men in power.

      • Anonymous says:

        07.22, it is blatantly obvious to most that Caymans politicians, and it does not matter what party or non-party they are, are actually incapable of getting anything right. As long as that continues, you are going to get all kinds of wierd decisions (latest being immigration) which does nothing for Caymanians nor expats, except for putting business off coming here. Other decisions could well make the same happen to tourism.

      • SSM345 says:

        07:22, in reposne to your question: " Can't Caymanians think for themselves anymore. "

        I would say that is a definate no, they cannot, look at the mess we now find ourselves in. Who put us in such a mess? Caymanians, no one else, the blame rests squarely with us and our leaders decisions.

        And I know DART sickens you because you hear their name constantly, but the fact of the matter is, they are the only ones wanting to do business with us, there are no other company's lining up at the door to invest.

        Why? Because people looking to invest don't like being dicked around with their money, and our government seem to be experts in doing that, just look at immigration for an example. Why would anybody invest in a country that kicks them out?

        • Anonymous says:

          One reason other investors are not lining up is because they fear Darts control over the country.  We have to stop giving more control to Dart or no one else will want anything to do with us.  Dart is setting it up so they have economic control and unfair advantage over other investors.  We have no one to blame but ourselves for allowing it to happen.  It may not be too late to stop now but it will be soon.

    • Anonymous says:

      Why are so many of us ready to tie a big bow around Cayman and gift it to Dart.  Money does not make one a saint.  If this take over of our country is not stopped  We will lse Cayman for good.  Historically dart eventually shows his true colours. 

      • SSM345 says:

        10:48, I think the point is the dock / pier, what ever you want to term it would have been built by now, infact it would have been built from longtime. Those mega ships would be parked in town today.

        Is that what everyone is screaming for?

        Screaming for development, jobs and opportunities and the ONLY person / company willing to put their hand up to do this is told to F'off at every opportunity those doing the most screaming get.

        There's some logic..

        Some "Good ol'Caymanian Commonsense from the Sacred Wessell".

    • Anonymous says:

      yessssssir, he's one enviromentally friendly feller that dart is. A true friend of the enviroment.  Ha Ha you funny!

  15. Anon says:

    Will there be meetings in this regard in other districts? 

    • Anonymous says:

      Doubtful. Having attend last night it was clear that they didn't really want public involvement. No clear answers and, when someone asked "will we be able to send in written comments?" the answer was "I'll see you afterwards to give you my email".

    • Anonymous says:

      Let's hope not.  Narrow minded districtism in Grand Cayman seems to be most popular with people who have trucks which are capable of driving to George Town. 

  16. SSM345 says:

    So in order for us to build two new piers to accomodate more "sangwich eata's" as the Leader of Opposition so fondly refers to crusie ship visitors, we are going to (i) risk destroying coral and dive sites, (ii) risk losing SMB and (iii) harm the Sand Bar / Stingray City because of the massive numbers expected to be generated from this development.

    If this does infact happen because they have not done a study to even entertain the risks of such development, remind me again why tourists will want to Cayman in the future?

    • Anonymous says:

      screw the future, a meteorite may hit tomorrow.  Lets get money. money. NOW

  17. Anonymous says:

    Sure, go ahead and spend 100 million for a dock that only brings in cheap tourists that spend 50 bucks a day AND it will cost us 75 bucks to clean up after them AND we will lose 7 mile beach    stupid dock !

    and where is the 4 $ per gallon gas that was promised during the campaign ???

    lies lies lies

    • Anonymous says:

      No govt. could promise you $4.00 per gal of gasoline. They don't control world oil prices. 

      • Ike N. Sienow says:

        Have you checked the gasoline prices in Venezuela and Mexico?

      • Anonymous says:

        well, during the campaign in bodden town i remember very well the speech

        "when we get in, the 1st thing we gonna do is take back the fees that mac put on

        under our government you will see 4 $ a gallon for gas !!!!"

        i have it recorded !!!


        • Anonymous says:

          IF they really said that and you believed them then you area bigger fool than them. Commonsense should have told you that it is impossible to guarantee delivery of such a price.     

    • Knot S Smart says:

      Dont worry Dear – next year when America and Iran once again become Bosom Buddies the price of gas is predicted to drop to $1.09 per gallon…

  18. anonymous says:


    Here are a few more reasons why George Town is a crazy place to put those piers…..
    1. Increased Traffic congestion- 24,000 passengers to move out instead of 13,000.
    2. New roads needed out of GT to cope with bigger ships- exisiting roads will completely block due to traffic. South Church street will see backups all the way to the Fuel tanks every single morning
    3. Closure of Harbour Drive mandatory- space required to deal with the disembarking passengers and the 150 buses needed to move them
    4. No landside space to accommodate passengers with out a massive reclamation which destroys even more of the harbour
    5. Destruction of Cali/Balboa Wrecks- these popular dive site will be buried under the concrete ofthe piers
    6. Destruction of Cheeseburger Reef- dredging will destroy it plus no snorkeling will be allowed that close to a cruise ship
    7. Continued conflict with cargo- currently we can have a barge and container ship in port at same time as cruise ships…not anymore
    8. Space limited to 4 cruise ships berthing, in winter we sometimes have 5 or 6 so some still on anchor
    9. The new piers will be closed during Northwesters- which happens during our high cruise ship season- not logical
    10. Requires second Landing at Spotts-more money
    11. Landing at Spotts will not accommodate new ships- too big to tender- they will still bypass
    12. Potential damage to Seven Mile Beach highly likely
    13. Construction expensive as it is in deep water- ends of piers in 80-90 feet of water on edge of a drop off…subject to massive wave uplift..massive engineering issue
    14. Construction disruptive to ongoing cargo & Cruise operations- 2 years of disruption where Royal Watler cannot be used…North & South terminals will not be able to cope
    15. Visually Disrupt George Town as Ships are closer to shore
    16. Disrupts future sunset views from Hog Sty Bay–piers will block all sunset views from Harbour Drive and North Church Street.

    I could go on but piers in George Town is plain out silly idea pushed by a few merchants. We need to come together and solve this properly.  The study says these piers will inject $250M into eceonmy over 20 years but guess what, they will cost over $150M to build so Government might as well put that money on fixed deposit…they will make that in 10 years! Come on PPM, UDP, Independents and Store keepers…lets do the right thing for Cayman. Lets not be stupid and put hose piers our there in the middle of the ocean, on edge of a massive drop-off. Waste of our money.

  19. Savannah Resident says:

    Why isn't the government exploring all potential areas to place the dock.  As I've stated before, CIG should seriously look at the proposal put forward by the fisher men moving the fingers pairs into the North Sound.  Yes I know the North Sound is also a protected zone but please don't forget that 

    1) CUC is discharging millions of gallons of hot water into the sound daily,

    2) The North Sound has been dredged before for upland development – Newlands, Yacht Club, and Snug Harbor 

    3) The North Sound is an all season save harbor.  If Hog Sty Bay experiences a higher sustained winds and/or North Wester – cruise ships will still have to relocate to the Spotts dock.

    4)If the port is moved to the red bay area, new road access will providing an additional infrastructure to alleviate traffic congestion in the eastern districts.  While this may not be the proper avenue to discuss the traffic congestion, the bottle neck at Hurley's roundabout is ridiculous. 


    • Anonymous says:

      Yes, the North Sound is an 'all weather' port. Because its a shallow lagoon protected by a fringing reef. If you dredge it deep, inclduing putting a channel through the reef big enough for crusie ships, it will immediately cease to be an 'all weather' port.

    • Anonymous says:

      Average depth of North Sound is around 15 feet, and Red Bay is only a bit more.  The handful of megaliners need 50 feet.  Reconciling the data points to large-scale dredging and suspended reef-choking silica and particulate that would radically alter the ecology and natural environment of North Sound and surrounding Grand Cayman waters (aka, our tourism product).  This is not a hypothetical outcome – there are plenty of real world studies available online from around the Caribbean.  

    • SSM345 says:

      Ok……so you propose to destroy the sandbar, the main toruist attraction for people getting off the cruise ships?

      What do propose replaces the sandbar as an attraction if we dredge the NS? Guided tours up Mt. Trashmore?

  20. Michel says:

    I agree that an assesment is needed to make certain it does not affect the 7 mile Beach, so sout Stingray City. As far as not being able to deal with the ships, let's not forget that in the past we had as many as 8 ships at the time and we managed. New regulation is needed to protect the stingrays. So many should be allowed at a time. What worries me is some operators still take the stingray out of the water and that should stop. Spots Dock should be fixed up as Norwester are right aound the corner and should be better organised and a good experience. For a brighter future and the dock is really needed, Michel

  21. Anonymous says:

    Suprised we have not heard anything from the Museum…are they justgoing to let them pour concrete over the cultural artifacts in the harbour. What is their plan to protect and preserve?

    • Anonymous says:

      Have you ever heard the museum object to anything? They clearly don't see that as their role and clearly successive governments, who appointed successive boards, agree.

  22. Old Timer says:

    Erosion of 7 Mile Beach is a non-starter. Just look at the disaster area in front of Royal Palms and the Marriott and further south.

    No one knows what the effects will be and that is simply not good enough.

    We cannot risk causing further damage to the main tourist attraction so that a couple downtown shops can sell t-shirts and other rubbish.

    The focus must be on enhancing stay over tourism.

  23. Anonymous says:

    Let's hope our politicians ego's and thirst to remain in power doesn't ruin our environment.

    • R. U. Kidden says:

       Politicians are like leopards….  they never change their spots. 

  24. Anonymous says:

    We are being led to great wealth in the short run and disaster in the long run.  Caynan may go the way of Nauru from cupidity if not stupidity.  So sad.

  25. Anonymous says:

    the doc will not impact the environment, it will not hurt the corals around, in fact more fish will accumulate around the pilings.  

    It will not cause beach erosion,nor armegeddon or global warming.

    the EIS is primarely used as a political vessel for eco wackos, and political opponents to delay or otherwise kill progress.  


    Should one bve conducted? Abolutely, but by real professionals which will conduct a study based on real facts., Not by the global warming or tofu-eating vegan nut jobs, not the opposite political parties.


    There are docks all over the world (in much shallower waters) and has not destroyed the environment.  Done correctly, it can actually improve it.

    Docks, bridges, canals, seawalls, lights do NOT destroy the enviroment.  that's abolute BS.


    If anyone knows anything marine life is that it LOVES man made structures.  such as pilings, such as shipwreaks, such as canals and under bridge lights.

    Do not be rilled up and fooled by the emotion pumping political charletans.  They don't have YOUR interest in mind, they have THEIR political agenda in mind.



    • Anonymous says:

      I remember having a similar conversation with someone regarding how 'great' the snapper fishing was at the then-new Safe Haven dredge pit. I asked him if he remembered fishing 'off Mashalls'? He said no. I could only shake my head and tell him how good the fishing had really been in the white holes before they became mud bottom and the few fish that remained congregated around the pit edges. – Yes things change. Yes fish adapt. But is it better? Not in my personal observation and experience.

    • Anonymous says:

      Hmmmmm.   I thought the "emotion pumping political charletans" WANTED the dock!