Actually, for my quote at the end of this, I said the corals should be strongly protected, not projected. There’s another typo there, but you get the idea. DeeVon
Last Stand says cruise ship issues clouded
Posted – Wednesday, July 13, 2011 11:00 AM EDT
Environmental groups are turning to Facebook to raise awareness of dredging and impacts from larger cruise ship vessels in Key West Harbor.
This comes in advance of Wednesday’s public workshop to discuss possible expansion of Key West’s shipping channel.
The proposal calls for widening the channel by 150 feet, allowing larger cruise ships to safely navigate in a 450-foot wide channel leading into Key West Harbor.
David Lybrand, a vice president of Last Stand, said the city could not readily accommodate the 5,000-plus passengers that can fit on new, larger cruise ships like Royal Caribbean’s the 1,187-foot Oasis of the Seas.
Lybrand also rejected arguments from those who say that not dredging would deter cruise lines from future ports-of-call in the Southernmost City.
” A lot of people are trying to cloud the issue, implying that if we don’t do this the cruise ship industry will just shut down here, ” Lybrand said. ” If we don’t dredge, all these people will be out of jobs. That’s just ridiculous. ”
Beginning at 6 p.m. Wednesday, members of the Key West City Commission will hear from dredging experts from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and environmental reps from the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. The meeting will be held at Old City Hall on Greene Street.
Resident watchdog Christine Russell told the Keynoter that, ” Instead of a discussion on widening the channel on Wednesday, we should be talking about other more basic things like our island image. ”
” Do we operate out of fear of losing [cruise ships]? Decisions made on the basis of fear are never a wise choice, ” she said.
In November, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released what’s called a reconnaissance study that deemed the widening economically viable and set the price tag at $35 million. The next step is a feasibility study that would cost about $5.5 million, half of which has to come through a four-year federal appropriation and the other half, $2.75 million, from non-federal dollars, according to City Manager Jim Scholl.
Reef Relief founder DeeVon Quirolo, in a written statement, said widening the channel, ” would be a terrible idea of Key West’s coral reef ecosystem. ”
” It would further threaten endangered corals and sea turtles and destroy live bottom in existing areas adjacent to the channel and at the reef. This is a coral reef that is already under tremendous stress from other impacts and is showing the strain; there is little living coral coverage left and all that is there should be strongly projected. ”
Scholl estimated the city schedules about 350 cruise ship visits each year, totaling around 800,000 visitors.