Minister of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy Kirk Humphrey is warning ship operators that Barbados will not tolerate any littering within its marine space.
Humphrey was addressing the christening ceremony of the Tropical Island vessel at the Bridgetown Port on Tuesday. The Tropical Island is one of several vessels operated by Tropical Shipping.
“I understand the port has recently shaped for itself a new vision that speaks to innovation, it speaks to becoming a green place to do business and it speaks to being the best by the year 2030. That is where we intend to take ourselves,” said Humphrey.
However, he said: “I also feel that in the context of that there is a responsibility now being placed on the people with whom we do business.”
“I have read and I have seen in circumstances where countries allow ships to operate in their territorial waters . . . and some ships engage in behaviours in the water that they should not in relation to pollution, some in relation to dumping. Some are still having to be dragged before courts and be fined. That is not who we are,” said Humphrey, adding that Barbados was committed to protecting the ocean as it develops a blue economy.
Over the years various cruise lines have been found guilty of dumping waste in some territorial waters.
Early last month the Bahamas government announced that it was investigating Carnival Corporation after that cruise operator was accused of illegally discharging more than half-million gallons of treated sewage, oil and food waste in its waters.
Calling on officials of Tropical Shipping to partner with Barbados in protecting the ocean, Humphrey said: “I know of examples where there are paints that are allowed on some ships in Barbados and it is not allowed in other countries. It is banned in other countries. I hope Tropical is not guilty of it.”
“It is one thing to do business but to be the best, the most innovative green hub blue space in the world it means we must do everything we can to protect the ocean,” he stressed.
He said Tropical Shipping’s investment in Barbados was a show of commitment in the economy by the company.
“We have a commitment to law and to order and we thrive on being excellent in our conduct and our endeavours, but for us, relationships remain extremely important and therefore, we wish to build on the nature of this relationship,” said Humphrey, while pointing out that government was investing “significantly” in the training of people as it improves efficiency.
Tropical Island is the first of two ships for the Windward region. The second is the Tropic Jewel to be introduced in about a month.
These are part of a build-out of a total of six vessels, which represent the biggest single investment by the company to date at approximately US$150 million. This will bring the total number of vessels to 16 for the company’s operations in the Caribbean.
President and Chief Executive Officer of the company Jeff Fiser said he remained committed to establishing Barbados as “a transshipment hub”.
The vessel will leave Barbados every week with cargo to several Caribbean destinations and will return to the island every Monday.
Vice President of Commercial Trade Tim Martin said the company was committed to keeping the waters of Barbados safe and to do things “ethically and honestly”.
“I know exactly what he is saying in reference to dumping or dumping waste. That is something we do not do. I know that for a fact. It is just something you have to stay on top of,” Martin told Barbados TODAY, adding that the new vessels were “eco-friendly”.
Chairperson of the Bridgetown Port Inc. Senator Lisa Cummins welcomed the decision by Tropical Shipping to make Barbados a hub for shipping cargo to other Caribbean countries.
She said it supported the island’s vision of building out the port facilities and improving efficiencies.
“We have emphasized building the port, expanding our revenue base by investing in new business lines, and that includes forging new business lines. We are hoping that by these improvements in efficiency, cost and performance overall, that we are able to have far more business being hubbed here out of Barbados,” she added.
Cummins said a strategy committee had been set up and in coming days new trade facilitation measures would be developed, as well as new partnerships and collaboration with other ports in the region.