Recent surveys show that Key West citizens are concerned about the biggest cruise ships with the worst health, safety and environmental violations. The Committee for Safer, Cleaner Ships was formed and it filed referendums with the city to put three protective limits on cruise ships. Currently the federal Centers for Disease Control is banning all cruise ships, at least until August. The danger of asymptomatic passengers transmitting virus diseases in a small island with limited medical facilities is real, and the results would be devastating both economically and in terms of human health and mortality.

Key West citizens who were registered to vote here in 2018 need to sign more than 1,600 petitions by June 1 in order to have the referendums on the August ballot. The committee and its dauntless volunteers are on track to reach that goal but they need help because it's going to be close.

Key West has the legal authority to regulate the size of ships, the maximum number of disembarkees per day, and to set environmental and public health standards. Therefore, the referendums would limit the ships to those with less than 1,300 passengers and crew; limit the total number of individuals allowed to disembark per day to 1,500; and Key West would give priority to those cruise lines with the best environmental and health records.

Yes, this quality control and safety plan could have some negative effect on some local jobs, but the overall favorable impact on the entire Key West community (health, lives, the environment and the quality of life) is undeniable. There's reason to believe that the fees and smaller number of more affluent tourists will actually be an economic improvement.

The window of opportunity closes on June 1, so signing the petitions and encouraging others to do the same at 720 Caroline St., is important — if you believe our future could be at stake.

Roger C. Kostmayer

Key West

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