How would the Caribbean handle a cruise ship environmental disaster?

Costa Concordia capsized

A recent article published on eTurboNews asks a timely and important question: Is the Caribbean prepared for a cruise ship environmental disaster?.

In the Caribbean – which is the most tourism dependent region in the world – Costa Cruises has ships calling in ports in Jamaica, the Turks & Caicos islands, St. Maarten, the Bahamas, Antigua, the British Virgin Islands, Belize, and the Cayman Islands. Costa is part of Carnival Group, and their ships, including Princess, P&O, Holland America, Cunard, Seabourne, and Aida cruise lines, call at almost every major island in the region. The group’s financial resources dwarf the GDP of most Caribbean economies. In total, over 60 percent of the world cruise ship fleet is in the Caribbean in the winter high season – bigger and bigger ships today, which apparently have less than adequate emergency back-up systems to allow safe operation of the vessel in the event of a major fire or severe grounding or collision.

…What resources exist in most Caribbean islands to limit the effect of a similar or greater cruise ship disaster?

Off the Italian coast, the ship hits rocks, while in the Seychelles and in the Caribbean, the resulting damage would likely be caused to reefs. The damage to Caribbean reefs and the marine environment – simply from cruise ship anchors and disposal of garbage overboard – has been well documented in the past. However, a serious grounding or collision could result in a devastating long-term environmental disaster. Most cruise ships move to other regions of the world at the end of the winter season, and detailed Caribbean island cruise itineraries can be readily changed. Therefore, in the event of a disaster, it is a single or small group of island governments which will bear the full impact.

How much assistance and cooperation have Caribbean governments received from cruise lines to finance and resource effective disaster planning to mitigate these risks?

Read more in the complete article.

[Photo: via]