September 17, 2020

The Last Stand board has reviewed the issue of the cruise ship referenda. Though the board is sensitive to the potential economic impacts of the referenda, no one denies the quality of life impacts of the cruise ships on Key West residents. In the expectation of a more balanced approach to cruise ship tourism, the board has taken a position of support for all three referenda.

The three referenda are in line with Last Stand’s interest in preserving the Florida Keys’ unique quality of life and our fragile, beautiful natural environment.

Environmental impacts of fewer cruise ship port calls are evident. Fewer large ships re-suspending silt in the channel will benefit juvenile coral. Smaller ships and fewer port calls will reduce particulates from exhaust plumes and improve Key West air quality. Fewer excursions to stressed coral reefs will benefit the environment.

The consequences of limiting ship size and numbers of passengers are complicated. Jobs will be lost; however, many of these jobs were already lost when COVID stopped tourism and cruise ship visits earlier this year. Businesses and the city are adapting to reimagine the future of Key West.

Spread of disease from cruise ships to the Key West community is a valid concern and could challenge the limited capacity of Key West hospitals and their staff.

Key West has done nothing to implement “best practices” to manage cruise ships as recommended in the October 2005 study, “Impacts of the Cruise Ship Industry on the Quality of Life in Key West”. These three charter amendments are an opportunity for the citizens of Key West to force their elected representatives to recognize that the pursuit of ever-increasing levels of tourism is not sustainable.

There is a limit to the City’s capacity to provide all tourists with a quality experience. We have already passed the point where tourism degrades the quality of life for many residents.

Tipping the scale toward the environment and quality of life, Last Stand endorses a YES vote for all three cruise ship referenda on the November 3rd ballot.

For the Last Stand Board of Directors,

D.A. Aldridge, President