The “Oasis of the Seas,” Royal Caribbean’s huge cruise ship, plans to make St. Thomas, USVI its first port of call, but not if a local environmental group has any say in the matter.
Bareboat and Caribbean yacht charter enthusiasts, tourism and hotel officials, and concerned residents threaten legal action to stop a controversial dredging project in St. Thomas USVI.
The Coalition to Save Lindbergh Bay, Inc. has served noticed to Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar, and a host of Obama administration officials of the group’s intent to commence a lawsuit to prevent the dumping
of dredge spoil in Lindbergh Bay, St. Thomas, United States Virgin Islands.
Plans are underway to dredge a portion of Charlotte Amalie harbor, and deposit the dredged materials on the ocean floor of nearby Lindbergh Bay.
The Virgin Island Port Authority (VIPA) seeks government approval to dredge Charlotte Amalie Harbor to accommodate navigation and berthing of the world’s largest cruise ship, Royal Caribbean’s “Oasis of the Seas.” Currently under construction, the 1,180 ft vessel is scheduled to include St. Thomas as its first port of call in December 2009. An environmental assessment report commissioned by the VIPA states the project will actually improve the marine environment and prevent coastal erosion.
Some tourism and hotel officials don’t see it that way.
The Coalition to Save Lindbergh Bay, Inc. is concerned the environmental impact of the project will have adverse effects on the local economy. They cite the potential for harm to sea turtles, their nesting sites, and the protected coral species found in the Bay.
Long the hub of the Caribbean yacht charter, bareboat charter, cruiseship industry, and a thriving eco-friendly vacation destination, thousands of tourists visit the Virgin Islands each year to swim, boat, and dive in the protected waters.
According to the Coalition, the long-term results of damage to the environment will mean a reduction of tourism. “Tourists come here to experience nature, up close and personal,” states a local bareboat yacht charter employee. “If we destroy the natural beauty of the area, tourists will simply go elsewhere and we’ll all pay the price, including our marine environment.”
To read the VIPA environmental assessment report and learn more about the Coalition to Save Lindbergh Bay, Inc email email@example.com
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