Members from five local Surfrider Foundation chapters – including Sebastian Inlet, Central Florida, Treasure Coast, South Florida and Palm Beach – gathered on Saturday, January 27, 2007 at the Port of Palm Beach in Riviera Beach for a portside and in-ocean protest to denounce the dumping of partially treated sewage by the Palm Beach Princess gambling ship just 3 miles off the coast.
Members young and old followed the gambling ship out to sea in two motorized watercraft, carrying signs reading “Pump, Don’t Dump,” “Dilution Is Not The Solution” and “Stop Cruise Ship Sewage Dumping.” An airplane flying a large banner with the phrase “Got Sewage? Game Cruises Dump It Daily” circled the gambling ship during the mid-morning event and additional chapter members and interested spectators lined the shores of the port’s jetty with banners and surfboards to lend their voices to the protest. And in a show of support for the demonstration, the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Department provided a police escort to Surfrider’s boats, ensuring that they could safely make the gambling ship’s passengers aware of the sewage situation.
“Gambling ships, like the Palm Beach Princess and SunCruz Casinos, dump thousands of gallons of partially treated sewage directly into the ocean on a daily basis. The environmental impact is extreme, to say the least,” said Rick Hayes, Sebastian Inlet Chapter Chairman. “The sewage is dumped into prime fishing locations, adversely affecting an important Florida industry and recreational pastime, and the waste washes to shore, leaving the ocean an unsafe place for surfers, their families and tourists to spend their time.”
The protest was in conjunction with Surfrider Foundation’s support of the Clean Oceans Bill. Sponsored by Rep. Bob Allen and Sen. Mike Bennett, if passed, the bill would make the gambling boats running “cruises to nowhere” pay a fee for getting their sewage treated even if they continue to dump it. It also assesses fines for dumping sewage within three miles of the coast, with exceptions for emergencies, and has each ship register with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. Copies of the bill, HB-57 and SB-444, were provided to Surfrider members and interested citizens during the portside portion of the demonstration and everyone was encouraged to contact their local government representatives to raise awareness of the bill. A copy of the bill with a brief description can be found here – www.surfrider.org/sebastianinlet/gambling.html
See related article: http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/local/palmbeach/sfl-psurfrider28jan28,0,4048643.story