Venetians Renew Calls for Cruise Ships Ban

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According to an article published in The Guardian, there have been fresh calls for cruise ships to be banned from Venice after a huge vessel crashed into a wharf and tourist boat on Sunday.

What happened?

The incident left four people injured and was followed by a protest organized by the activist group No Big Ships. Another protest is planned for Saturday.

The images coming out of Venice do not need many words,” No Big Ships said in a statement. “A large ship threatened to trigger a tragedy. One wonders how it is possible that, despite Venetian citizens asking for years that these polluting monsters be blocked from the lagoon, nothing has been done yet.”

Engine failure reason for crash

The crash, which happened after the 13-deck MSC Opera experienced an engine failure, provoked more infighting among Italy’s governing coalition partners. Matteo Salvini, of the far-right League, blamed the Five Star Movement (M5S) for failing to support a project to divert cruise liners from the busy Giudecca canal.

Calls for an alternate route raised

Danilo Toninelli, M5S’s transport minister, said on Monday that a solution for an alternative route would soon be found and that his party was in favour of closing off the Giudecca canal – the main thoroughfare that leads to St Mark’s Square – too big ships.

But first it is necessary to find an alternative, the definitive one and a provisional one so that Venice does not lose cruise tourism,” Toninelli said. “After years of stalling, we are close to a solution that is capable of finally holding together all the interests in the field.”

Campaigners wary

Campaigners shrugged off the government response as a pleasantry, arguing that an alternative route would still require canals to be dredged, further damaging the fragile lagoon.

Marco Gasparinetti, who leads the city’s Gruppo 25 Aprile activist group, said: “We want these big ships completely out of the lagoon – they are a danger to our homes, our monuments and the environment.”

Citizen’s worst affected

Gasparinetti recalled that a few years ago another MSC ship, while anchored in front of Dubrovnik’s walled city, tore up pipelines connecting the nearby island of Lokrum, leaving residents without water and electricity for weeks.

The port of Civitavecchia, 60 miles from Rome, is a major transit point for cruise ship passengers visiting the capital and other cities including Florence. Gasparinetti suggested applying a similar system for Venice.

Cruise tourism represents roughly 5% of visitors, who mostly only spend a few hours in Venice,” he said. “Let the ships dock further away in Trieste or Chioggia, we don’t need them here.”

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Source: TheGuardian

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