Stuart Hayward, the chairman of Bermuda Environmental and Sustainability Taskforce *File photo
Stuart Hayward, the chairman of Bermuda Environmental and Sustainability Taskforce *File photo

A leading Bermudian green activist is hailing recent research that says the cruise industry is failing to take environmental sustainability seriously as evidence it needs to do more for the environment.

New research by Leeds Metropolitan University (UK) indicates the industry “is ignoring their corporate social responsibility towards the environment, society and the destinations they visit”.

More than half of 80 cruise companies do not mention corporate social responsibility on their web sites, which, according to one report author, proves that more must be done in terms of curbing the environmental effect of cruise ships’ discharges.

In some instances, according to the study, cruise ships can still discharge commuted and disinfected sewage three nautical miles from shore and be within the law.

Dr. Xavier Font, a lead author of the study, said: “Companies mostly report on their corporate vision and strategy, their credentials and their governance and management systems, but they fail to report on actual performance data on many key environmental and socio-economic indicators. 

“Reporting on emissions, effluents, waste or water is the result of eco-saving strategies and regulator pressure. But not one of the 80 companies reports on the sustainability of the resources consumed or biodiversity actions, and few disclose their positive social or economic impact on destinations.”

Stuart Hayward, the chairman of Bermuda Environmental and Sustainability Taskforce (BEST),  said the research is important because it will provide information that will make it easier for prospective cruiseline customers to make environmentally responsible decisions.

The cruise industry, said Mr. Hayward, “is governed primarily by a drive for economic gain for which there are few self-limiting factors”.

He says that cruise line companies collaborate, whereas leaders from cruise destinations do not.

“Destinations are outgunned,” he said.

“Political leaders are too often swayed by short-term economic arguments when it comes to regulating cruiseliners, rather than long-term environmental or social issues.

“As more cruise ship passengers become environmentally selective about their voyages, the companies will become more responsive. 

The keys are information, education and motivation. Research like this one will add to the bank of information on which cruise customers can depend to ask relevant questions and make environmentally responsible decisions.”

He added, “Individuals and organizations who care about the environmental sustainability of our island (and elsewhere) can bring this kind of information to the attention of business and political leaders.”