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Waterkeepers Bahamas and Save The Bays applaud Disney for shelving Egg Island plans
By Diane Philips & Associates
Jul 22, 2016 - 2:47:50 PM

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Two leading organisations with strong ties to the marine environment today added their voices to quickly mounting applause, thanking Disney Cruise Lines for shelving plans to lease Egg Island in North Eleuthera for a private island cruise destination.

“Speaking on behalf of Waterkeepers Bahamas and Save The Bays, I extend heartfelt congratulations to Disney Cruise Lines and to the citizens of North Eleuthera who, as a corporation and as a community, came to the same conclusion -- that to have proceeded with plans to develop this ecologically sensitive area into a heavily trafficked, commercial venture requiring extensive dredging and destruction of coral reefs would have been an environmental disaster. In fact, it would have violated the very sound ecological principles which Disney has come to represent,” said Joseph Darville, Chairman. “In addition to being an entertainment giant, Disney has also been a great friend of the environment.”

The Disney Conservation Fund is currently supporting coral reef restoration in The Bahamas through a program called Reverse the Decline.

Disney announced late Thursday it was scrapping plans to transform the island not far from Spanish Wells into a private day trip destination for passengers after it reviewed an environmental impact assessment and geotechnical studies it had commissioned. The cruise line had never formally announced it was pursuing a private island destination in Eleuthera, but news spread like fire in a drought when an engineering contract with a Spanish Wells link surfaced. The local community pulled together, drafting a petition circulated widely online eliciting more than 2,000 signatures in a matter of days.

“All the stars aligned on this and everything worked as it should,” said Darville. “The corporate entity, Disney Cruise Lines, demonstrated responsibility and made the right choice. The community got together and spoke in a voice that could not be ignored about an activity that would have changed their way of life and could have destroyed much of the fish population on which they depend for their livelihood because the reefs and the mangroves around Egg Island are important fish, conch and crawfish nurseries and habitats. And the environmental impact assessment did what it was created for. Based on science, not emotion, it showed that there would have been damage and destruction of the marine environment.”

Darville said he hopes that the Disney example becomes the model on which others proceed in the future. “If only this had happened in Bimini, we might have been able to save some of the world’s most famous and treasured coral reefs that were destroyed in the name of development and for the sake of a cruise dock that is not even being used. On the positive side, maybe it takes a grave loss like that to open eyes and sensitize people to take greater care in the future.”

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