The people of Key West, Florida voted down a measure that would have ordered an Army Corps of Engineers study on whether the city should expand its main shipping channel to accommodate the ever larger ships being launched by the major cruise lines. The proposed expansion would displace some 150,000 cubic yards of sea floor protected by the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. The final tally was 4,531 (73.54%) citizens saying no to the study as opposed to 1,630 (26.46%) who voted for the study.
Jolly Benson, a spokesperson for the Key West Committee for Responsible Tourism, said his next step is to keep up the pressure. A spokesperson of the Key West Chamber of Commerce, the largest proponent of the study, commented that “It’s a little disappointing” and that she “certainly expected a lot closer vote.” Port expansion measures to accommodate larger cruise ships are a hot topic around many United States and worldwide port cities. The main arguments are based upon raising economic revenues versus loss of environmental resource and local aesthetics.