“I can’t see anything positive”: Return of cruise lines could spark a storm of protests in Australian regional ports | Tourism (Australia)

As a teenager, Dylan Boag couldn’t wait to move to town, but when he finally got there all he could think of was returning home to the pristine waters of Jervis Bay, 200 km south of Sydney.

Today the 30-year-old runs an eco-tourism company with his partner Lara Hindmarsh in the 102 square kilometer bay.

Her company offers freediving courses and tours for people to swim with seals, dolphins, and whales.

“It was paradise down here during the lockdown. People have realized that city life isn’t always that great, ”says Boag. “Here the air is fresh and the sea is clean. That is what makes life so good. “

Judging by the developers keeping an eye on the area and tourists fleeing the Sydney freeway on the weekend, Boag says it looks like the rest of the world has come to the same conclusion.

But Boag and other locals are increasingly concerned about the plans being made Jervis Bay Marine Park – one of only five in New South Wales – to the cruise industry.

“To be honest, I can’t see anything positive. The only thing is, business owners may make more money, ”Boag says. “The health of our marine ecosystem is what sustains us all. Cruise ships are not environmentally friendly. “

An industry on the break

After a two year hiatus and the success of its reputation through the Ruby Princess fiasco, Australia $ 5.2 billion cruise industry Itching to get back on the water.

Industry insiders met with NSW Health Secretary Brad Hazzard in early November to discuss what it takes.

The industry had hoped to start a new season by now, but the start was sketchy, with big operators like P&O Australia Cancellation of cruises due in 2022 due to a lack of certainty about the state operating license.

But the desire to get back to business is fueling tensions between the industry and communities living near current or planned travel destinations over environmental concerns. You say the two-year break should have been used to solve open problems.

Queensland has a controversial proposal for a new cruise terminal on the Gold Coast was made afloat againwhile residents were in Sydney’s Yarra Bay work to stop a new terminal is being built there.

Penny Davidson of the Jervis Bay Community Cruiseship Coalition says questions have gone unanswered by the NSW government, which has kept the issue confusing and opaque.

The NSW port authority has repeatedly denied It has plans to open the marine park to cruise ships, but a Draft management plan for the NSW mainland marine park mentions Jervis Bay in plans of the Department of Primary Industries to promote cruise tourism in regional areas.

Meanwhile, cruise companies are Sell ​​tickets That includes Jervis Bay on the itinerary – raising fears that decisions were made behind closed doors.

“Our concern is that once you get this in place, you won’t be able to say no to others,” says Davidson. “In view of our fragile environment, have you carried out studies to show that the current level of use is not already damaging our ecosystem without increasing the pressure even further?”

A spokesman for NSW’s port authority said the agency took over the management of smaller ports in Jervis Bay in 2018 and “inherited a situation” where the Marine Park Authority gave cruise ships permission to stay in the area.

They said Jervis Bay will not be considered as a cruise destination after talks with Shoalhaven City Council and the agency will conduct that consultation on future decisions.

The Department of Primary Industries was requested to comment.

A known problem

Prof. Susanne Becken, who teaches sustainable tourism at Griffith University, says the situation in Jervis Bay and other communities is a “very well-known” story.

From Vanuatu to Canada Northwest Passage, The pressure to enter new areas for the cruise industry is unstoppable, but decisions are often made without detailed independent research into economic benefits or environmental impacts, she says.

“Nobody really knows how much economic benefits the industry will bring, and nobody really knows how much pollution they are responsible for,” says Becken.

“If you take a new path, you have a very comprehensive cost-benefit analysis and community advice. The need for independent data is really important here. “

Industrial pollution is not to be underestimated. As floating hotels that transport hundreds of people simultaneously to some of the most pristine and fragile ecosystems in the world, cruise ships are to generate an average of 2,358 m³ gray water and treated waste water, 84 m³ oily waste and 266 m³ solid waste per week under normal conditions.

Sign up to receive the top stories from Guardian Australia every morning

And as soon as a passenger steps onto a cruise ship, it is his CO2 footprint tripled Thanks to the “bunker fuel”, the ships are on fire. Bunker fuel is an inferior fuel made from the dregs of oil refining and is dangerous to human health.

Before global efforts to reduce the sulfur content in this fuel took effect in 2020, bunker fuel was held responsible 400,000 dead worldwide of lung cancer and 14 million cases of asthma. Despite the new regulations, the fuel is projected to cause 250,000 deaths each year.

Becken says “latent risks” include the potential for accidental and deliberate spillage.

In 2016, a Carnival Cruise subsidiary was fined $ 40 million when crews aboard their ships in the UK and US used a temporary bypass known in the industry as the “magic pipe”, to dump thousands of liters of untreated oily water into the ocean.

Coupled with the physical impact of anchors ripping open the ocean floor, the noise pollution from increased shipping traffic, and the cumulative pressure from building supporting infrastructure like piers or bus terminals, cruise shipping can be a dirty business.

The industry says it is working to improve. A spokesman for the Cruise Lines International Association said its ocean going members have pledged to pursue a “net carbon neutral cruise” by 2050 and support research efforts to develop zero-emission fuels.

The spokesman said the industry in Australia is covered by multiple levels of state and federal regulations that “include strict measures for discharges such as sewage and ballast”.

You said Australia adopted global regulations known as “Marpol” with the aim of improving the quality of marine fuel, and citing the industrial association’s waste management policy, which “prohibits the discharge of untreated wastewater into the sea at any time, anywhere and around the world”.

“We need the best standards in the world”

Although industry and government are calling out these regulations to allay concerns, others in affected communities say they are wide enough for a cruise ship to pass through.

Kate Horrobin is among those residents who live near the White Bay cruise terminal in Sydney and have been working since opening in 2013 to get authorities to address health and environmental concerns.

At that time, she says, residents began comparing notes of headaches and asthma attacks that they believed were related to inhaling exhaust fumes from cruise ships idling at the terminal.

“It will be said that our problems are solved by the Marpol regulations, but they are intended as the standard for swimming on the high seas,” says Horrobin. “You can still go straight into Sydney Harbor if you burn 0.5% sulfur fuel. We have to reduce that to 0.1%. “

Horrobin says the industry may be ready to investigate the pandemic, but it has been a “nice vacation” and a “complete relief” from the cruise ship pollution.

She wants the NSW government to build shore-to-ship power so that cruise ships can turn off their engines in port.

“It’s a do-no-harm policy,” says Horrobin. “Our attitude is: come back, but when you come back you have to stick to the best standards in the world, not the worst. And you need to protect the health and the environment of the communities in which you participate. “

About Christine Geisler

Check Also

Beyond Energy, 5 ETFs to launch this year – June 21, 2022

2022 has been the worst for the stock market in decades as the S&P 500 …