Viewpoint: The answer is yes 

By Beth Ellen Warner 

The answer to the question of last week’s front-page article, “Can a town restrict cruise ships,” is a resounding yes, of course we can, absolutely, Bar Harbor can say yes!  

Sadly, an atrociously flawed opinion was introduced in the story. It claimed banning certain types of commercial vessels outright would be “considered unconstitutional.” This is not fact. It is merely opinion and entirely erroneous. It was introduced to discourage and sidetrack the majority of citizens in Bar Harbor who stand against the destructive, predatory cruise ship industry. Big cruise ships routinely pollute, are petri dishes for diseases and reduce our town to a destination the big ships use and abuse as they do their workers below decks. 

The absurdity of this opinion is glaringly extreme because big cruise ships do not need to obey U.S. laws because none are registered in the U.S. The majority of the fleet of Carnival Cruise Line is registered in Panama and a few of its vessels fly flags from Malta and the Bahamas. All of the Disney ships are registered in the Bahamas. The United States Constitution and our laws have no impact on cruise ships whatsoever!  

All big cruise ships fly “flags of convenience” by not registering in the U.S. This is a common business practice to enable owners of ships to avoid regulations of countries like the U.S., especially in regard to safety standards. Cruise ships registered outside of the U.S.A. can also avoid higher taxes. Cruise ships registered outside of the U.S.A. can routinely bypass labor laws designed to protect the wages and working conditions of workers. Panama is used because registrations can be obtained online, Panama allows employing cheap foreign labor and Panama allows cruise ships to avoid paying income taxes entirely. 

Bar Harbor citizens, wake up and smell the stench of this “unconstitutional” opinion because it is garbage. This opinion is a shoddy attempt to dismiss our concerns, advance an agenda of deception, strike fear of lawsuits, confuse and muddy facts. Bar Harbor citizens won’t be discouraged and sidetracked from insisting Bar Harbor be released from the stranglehold of this predatory industry. It’s not a healthy business partnership but the cruise ship industry is determined to keep Bar Harbor reduced to a destination for unloading thousands of passengers who put unwanted pressure on all. They do nothing to contribute to our community in sustainable ways. We have a strong tourist industry from land-based visitors, not from big cruise ships towering over the Porcupines who spew passengers here, then sail away to spew their sewage into the sea. 

Bar Harbor is not like Key West, but it can be like neighboring Northeast Harbor, Southwest Harbor and Tremont. Bar Harbor can do what those island towns did to restrict cruise ships – disallow disembarking more than 50 passengers at public and private docks. Keep it simple. 

Beth Ellen Warner lives in Salsbury Cove. 

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