(CMR) Renowned ocean explorer and life-long environmental advocate Jean-Michel Cousteau has publically changed his position on the building of a port in the Cayman Islands. He says the move came after obtaining more information from the preferred bidders, Verdant Isle Port Partners. However, critics have said that this move comes several months after Cousteau partnered with Carnival Corporation.
It was announced in late September that “the world's largest leisure travel company” partnered Jean-Michel Cousteau and his Ocean Futures Society, a nonprofit marine conservation and education organization. Their press statement shared that:
“In recent years, Carnival Corporation and its nine global cruise line brands have introduced several new environmental partnerships and initiatives.”
There are no precise details on what the partnership will include except that “Cousteau will provide valuable external expertise on environmental initiatives. ”
Initially, he shared that he was deeply concerned. However, in a brief press release by Cousteau he now indicates that his initial concerns about the port have now been elevated after he met with Verdant Isle Port Partners. He shares that he was asked to voice his environmental concerns and he did so based on the 2015 EIA document and information that supported that document. He now claims to be impressed by “the significant efforts being made … to ensure a delicate but ever-important balance is struck to ensure sustainable development.”
Cousteau does not outright say he's in favor of the port or that he has no remaining concerns but encourages further dialogue by respective stakeholders:
“Now is the time for all interested parties in the community to get an understanding of the latest plans and collectively determine what is best for the Cayman Islands.”
Carnival Cruise line continues to be in the news for its poor environmental record. The cruise company is on probation for five-years after a 2016 criminal pollution conviction. There have been numerous breaches since then. Earlier this summer they plead guilty to probation violations and agreed to pay an additional $20 million in fines.